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Pete Lyons' fantastic Can-Am Cars in Detail:
November/December 2011
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All news content copyright Michael J. Fuller, unless otherwise noted
Toyota Eagle MkIII, Atlanta Motor Speedway, 199312.31.11

>>Pete Lyons leaves us with a final post script of the 1991 Toyota Eagle MkIII test photo by sending along a shot he took in 1993 of the Toyota Eagle MkIII in its final form.  That year Road Atlanta was being paved and the IMSA GTP round occurred at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Stardust International Raceway, 1967The second photo he sent was of the real Stardust International Raceway, this taken at the 1967 Can-Am event.

Many thanks Mr. Lyons!
12.24.11

>>LeMans.org is reporting that the Toyota LMP1 will debut to the press in late January 2012.  Anyone live near Paul Ricard and have a camera...?
>>We've been handed a copy of the latest draft (final?) of the 2012 regulations.  Ho, ho, ho.

12.21.11

>>We're hearing the expected "delivery" date for the ACO2014 rules has now moved to March 2012.

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First test for the Toyota Eagle MkIII at Las Vegas Raceway, 1991.  First test.12.19.11

>>A month ago we posted this image sent to us by Mike Cook.  We stated it was taken at Stardust International Raceway and went about our business.

Well it was brought to our attention yesterday, by none other than Pete Lyons, that Stardust closed in...1970.  So the question went out to the AAR folks.  And after exchanging emails between Brian Willis, Mike Cook, Pete Lyons, John Ward, and Kathy Weida we finally have an answer of where the test actually occurred.  

The starting clues were that the test was definitely in Las Vegas and that the track was near Nellis Air Force Base .  Well digging up Google maps looking at Nellis shows none other than what is now called Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Back then it was simply Las Vegas Raceway, and recalls Mike Cook, "Gotta say, there wasn't much to the track.  It was like it was totally deserted and disused, tumbleweed and scrub brush obscuring every apex and corner exit.  No pits, timing or race control towers, nothing.  Desolate."  These were the days before the big oval was built.

But Willis recalls a slight stumble before the car was readied:

"Funny issue was that John Ward had me do the gear shift linkage.  He gave me the shift pattern for the box, so I drew up the linkage and Phil Remington made it.  Phil came to me and said, 'We have a small problem-the gearshift is backwards!'  I panicked and looked at the setup and it was backwards!  I checked the drawings, data, and everything was OK.  This was a Sunday and John Ward came in Monday and so I had to explain my mistake.  He came in, I explained it all, and he said, 'Well fix it,' and left.  Ten minutes later he came over all sheepish and said he had transposed the shift fork motion on the sketch he gave me and so it was all his fault.  There was no time to fix it before the test so the car ran with the shifter backwards!"
Onroak Oak Racing LMP2>>Oak Racing revealed their 2012 LMP2 challenger today.

The Oak's front fender, with its vertical leading edge (A), takes cues from the HPD ARX-01e/ARX-03a/b and the Audi R18.  Outboard splitter detail (B) is also similar to the ARX (1, 2) series of LMPs.  We see a lot of development in the trailing edge area of the pontoon fenders (C).  The valance panel (D) performs a rules compliance funtion and the side pods are more heavily waisted (E) than previous.  The sidepod is also much more sculputed ahead of the rear fender (F).
 The car was shown with the mandatory Big Honking Holes (G) and Big Honking Fin (H).

We understand aerodynamics development was carried out via scale model tunnel, at the RUAG tunnel in Switzerland.  Interestingly, Oak's Christophe Chapelain admits the 2012 car essentially isn't any better aerodynamically than the 2011 car, "
The gains compared last year is nothing because we have lost too much with the openings."
Onroak Oak Racing LMP2Conquest Racing also announced today that they will run the Oak LMP2 chassis in the 2012 American Le Mans Series.

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Audi R18H, Sebring Test, December 201112.18.11

>>A close up of the R18's tub, where it interfaces with the engine cover, better shows the lack of refueling recepticle and the removal of the very small horizontal perimeter "shelf".  This small detail is easily ignored and only makes itself known by the highlight it creates (see next image below). 
Audi R18, Sebring Test, January 2011From Sebring, January 2011, the debut R18.  Many changes were made to the car throughout the year, so ignore the slanting Big Honking Fin, the differences around the wheel well exit, etc.  These were updated during the season to the spec the R18H is currently testing in.  We only want to look at the exposed tub surfaces and compare these to the above.  Note the differences.

Now we're adamant the tub is new, but it could simply be a modification to the upper mold half and front suspension pickup points thus making it only "60%" new mold surfaces.  We're only pointing this out just in case the Audi folk get pedantic.
Audi R18H, Sebring Test, December 2011Here's a better shot of the engine cover bulge we pointed out yesterday.  As we can see, it is assymetric to car centerline.

The exhaust pipe is now round in section.
Audi R18H, Sebring Test, December 2011>>Quattroworld has released a gallery of shots taken at Sebring of the Audi R18H.  Upon analysis of their side by side we're more convinced now that the R18H has a new monocoque.  The primary drivers are the lack of fuel receptacle on the car's left hand side (this is an engineered-in hard point and not easily removed), and more importantly, the vastly reduced highlight/edge that skirts the side of the tub.  Structural edges and faces can't be easily softened without evidence (covering panels for instance).

We also noticed the crash structure/nose is longer and the leading edge split line for the engine cover is further forward.

It's difficult to analyse the rest of the car's aero as it mostly appears cribbed off the old car and most certainly isn't the definitive form.

And if there are still any lingering doubts that this is the Hybrid...apparently corner workers at the Sebring test have been warned to stay clear of the car in case of an accident as the car is, "...full of electrical energy.
TopGearAutosport.com is an online shop for performance parts & accessories, including headlights and tail lights
12.17.11* updated

Audi R18, Paul Ricard Test, December 2011>>Today Audi released three images of their R18H.  The accompanying press release discusses a currently on-going test at Sebring though they've released images from a previous test at Paul Ricard.  Also of note, as drawn down from Audi Kommunication's press site, the images are very low resolution (around 100 kb @ 72 dpi), not their typical print-ready 300 dpi and 2-3 mb.  Significant or jumping to conclusions?  

A couple of things we notice.  First thing, the front glass has been revised as the shape is much fuller.  This is noticeable in the front and side views.  This is clearly to address the outward/forward visibility issues the R18 suffered through this season.

But perhaps more importantly, the front suspension also has been revised.  We know this as the as the bulge from the pushrod is gone.  This suggests a rather substantial redesign, making one wondering how deep that revision has gone because altering torsion bar locations would require modifications to the design of the monocoque.  And of course there already is that rumor out there; that Audi has done just that and designed and manufactured a new tub for 2012.  Could this be it?

Though a betting man might say the revisions to the front suspension had something to do with the hybrid system that is set to be introduced next season.  But, Audi has been pretty clear that the original car was designed to accept hybridization from the start.  So why would they make large revisions going into year two to do as they say the car was already designed to do?  Perhaps money does grow on trees at Audi?  Or we're slightly off mark and something else is going on.  There's rumors that the suspension revisions might be aimed at improving mechanical grip.  So some of these revisions aren't evidence of hybidization necessarily as that's a foregone conclusion.

The nose crash structure also has a much sharper radii all around, gone is the platypus look.  The connecting panels between the nose and the font fenders have also been revised, though this area was scene of active development throughout the 2011 season.   
Audi R18, Paul Ricard Test, December 2011The front fenders appear to have yet another different shape.  We saw at least 2 different fenders this past season, arguably 3.  The fenders here appear to be similar to the fenders the car originally rolled out with, not the smoother Le Mans style.
Audi R18, Paul Ricard Test, December 2011Perhaps just perception, but the turbo inlet appears squarer with slightly more inlet area.

The car does not appear to be in 2012 aero spec, note the apparent lack of Big Honking Holes.

Late in the day it was confirmed that the car in the images is indeed the Hybrid R18.  Where did the confirmation come from?  None other than the extended "properties" data embedded within every digital image.  It also tells us these images were taken last month, November 17th to be exact.
Audi R18, Paul Ricard Test, December 2011Antonio Pannullo sends us this comparison which demonstrates the problem with working with low resolution images.   Antonio rightfully points out differences in the new car.  But with low res images we're really left in the dark.  It does appear there is an exit duct of some sort ahead of the "P1" sticker.  And there also does appear to be a bulge in the engine cover (yellow arrow at leading edge of rear fender).  And with a higher resolution image we'd be able to zoom in there and have a better look.  Audi of course knows this and hence our hands are tied.

12.10.11

Oak Racing Pescarolo 01 Evo, Sebring Dunlop tire test, December 2011>>An additional image has arrived that shows the fender holes slightly better.  They are horribly crude looking and you really have to think the best minds in motorsports can come up with something better.  Hopefully the 2014 rules will do away with the band-aid aero fixes the ACO rules have been adopting since 2004.
12.9.11

Oak Racing Pescarolo 01 Evo, Sebring Dunlop tire test, December 2011>>Images have arrived showing Oak testing in preliminary 2012 fender hole specification.  
Oak Racing Pescarolo 01 Evo, Sebring Dunlop tire test, December 2011Note the break in the front fender louvers.
Oak Racing Pescarolo 01 Evo, Sebring Dunlop tire test, December 2011Also, it is evident that the top of the rear fender has been removed.
TopGearAutosport.com is an online shop for performance parts & accessories, including headlights and tail lights
12.8.11

Oak Racing Pescarolo 01 Evo, Sebring testing December 2011>>Mulsanne's Corner's minions were stalking the Oak Racing/Dunlop test at Sebring earlier in the week.  We understand a full contingent from Oak was in attendance: two cars, multiple mechanics, drivers, and tire support.  What were they up to?  Initially we thought it it was a shake down and hand over test for an ALMS team.  Speed's John Dagys says it's simply a Dunlop test and we now have confirmation that's the case: Dyson and a couple of GT teams are also running.
Oak Racing Pescarolo 01 Evo, Sebring testing December 2011
Oak Racing Pescarolo 01 Evo, Sebring testing December 2011The car in these images is a box-standard 2011.  Note the lack of 2012 front/rear fender holes.  We're told Oak ran the 2012 holes today.
12.4.11

Toyota Eagle MkIII IMSA GTP>>We've added a new product to the Mulsanne's Corner's Cafe Press store.  Based off a SolidWorks drawing inspired by a correction to a Tony Mathews sketch. Embrace your inner geekdom.
TopGearAutosport.com is an online shop for performance parts & accessories, including headlights and tail lights

Delta Wing show car, Petit 201111.24.11

>>There hasn't been much out of the Delta Wing camp officially lately, but off the record we're told that work continues rather diligently.  The Aston Martin tub is now in the shop (the one from the image a few months back was a mock up) and assemblies now have something to hang off of.  The front composite crash structure is making progress and will be done in house at AAR.  The uprights are being fabbed up and Metalore is working on the hubs.  And finally, I'm told an engine has been selected though we'll have to wait on the public announcement.
First test for the Toyota Eagle MkIII at Stardust International Raceway in Nevada, 199111.16.11

>>Former TRD employee Mike Cook shares this image taken in 1991 of the first test of the Toyota Eagle MkIII at Stardust International Raceway (layout) Las Vegas Raceway.  Says Mike, "It was a very exciting day and we all knew we had something special. You can tell from Dan's huge grin!"  

We can see, from left to right, Dan Gurney, Hiro Fujimori, Jim Hamilton, and Rocky Moran (who did all the driving that day).  Some might also recognize ex-Panoz man Brian Willis, 6th from the left.  Starting on the far right, 4th in, is John Ward with Phil Remington next to him.  Mike Cook is 7th in from the right in the white t-shirt and sun glasses.
TopGearAutosport.com is an online shop for performance parts & accessories, including headlights and tail lights
11.6.11

>>More details are beginning to emerge regarding the 2012 regulation changes as well as the 2014 rules.

For 2012, the Big Honking Holes, as of November 3 (modified Technical Bulletin #11-22), are defined as:

At the front they will have a minimum area of 750 cm^2 and a maximum area of 950 cm^2
At the rear they will have a minimum area of 1000 cm^2 and a maximum are of 1200 cm^2
A minimum of 30 mm offset must be maintained between the outer edge of the opening and the outer edge of the fender
As seen from the front or rear, it is permissible to see the tops of the tire
A 20 cm x 25 cm template must be able to pass through the openings front and rear

The rear wing gurneys (20 mm) are no longer mandatory for LMP1 and LMP2

We understand some of the dimensional details of the fin have been slightly redefined though it is the same for all intents and purposes.

Regarding 2014, we're hearing that overall dimensions more than likely will be changing.  The current proposal is a 1900 mm maximum width and a 4500 mm maximum length (the current regulation is 2000 mm and 4650 mm respectively).  The cockpit width isn't expected to change though the cockpit height dimension could increase slightly.  There aren't expected to be any changes to the front and rear overhang dimensions.  

The reasoning behind the width and length dimensional changes are for increased aero efficiency, this to go hand in hand with the proposed emphasis on fuel efficiency, hybrids, and decreased weight.  The width reduction alone would be worth a ~5% reduction in frontal area.  

It would also appear that maximum tire widths will be reduced to 14" for 2014; the era of the wide fronts would thus be over.
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ęCopyright 2011, Michael J. Fuller