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September 2006
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9.30.06

>>News run-down from Petit.

>>Mazda's John Doonan, though very tight lipped, did tell me that Laguna Seca will be the venue for Mazda's "monumental" announcement regarding the LMP2 program for '07.  Expect a new chassis and the announcement of an engine program (yes, I know we’ve been saying that all year…THIS time, trust me!).  BK Motorsports will continue to be the factory endorsed effort.

>>Radical's Tim Greaves indicates that there have been inquires into a LMP1 version of the SR9.  Don't confuse this with the SR10 coupe mentioned a few weeks ago.  What we're talking about is a LMP1 version of the current open top SR9.  While a conversion kit would consist of a bit more than a new engine installation, all the pieces are in place.

>>Creation's Ian Bickerton mentioned that the CA06/H will be staying States side next year.  The team is looking to set up a base to run the car from.  The Le Mans Series program will continue, running in new CA07 spec.

>>Tim Holloway, Chief Designer for Zytek, indicates the high possibility that the Zytek 06S could find a U.S. customer for ‘07.  Hybrids will continue to be legal in the American Le Mans Series.

>>The State of the Series press conference brought forward the 2007 schedule.  IMSA's Tim Mayer also laid out plans for next year's performance adjustment procedure citing that, as needed, there will be two adjustment periods during the season with the parameters of weight, fuel, boost, and restrictor diameter, being adjusted accordingly at those times.  Mayer's stated goal for the potential performance adjustments is simply to allow for reasonable competition for privateers against the factories.  It was also mentioned that the ACO is fully behind IMSA, having come to the recognition that regulations designed for one event aren't necessarily perfect for an entire series.  This is a noted change in the ACO's tone inasmuch as they weren't necessarily on the same page until recently.

Ultimately all rather anticlimactic (and nearly 2 hours to get to it).  Though it was worth the price of admission to witness first hand Audi's Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich stick his feet in it.  During the press Q & A Ulrich found it appropriate to take the time to air out his (Audi's?) feelings regarding the IMSA performance adjustments and frankly came off as disingenuous, his quote simply doesn't bear repeating.  Rob Dyson, in response to Ulrich, took to the microphone to give his own views citing, the need to be able to compete against, "...superior technology that is totally unavailable."

In the end the very informal consensus within the paddock is that the performance adjustments only keep chasing up the Audi R10's boost.  And while the Series may feel otherwise, there are few who shed a tear for Audi and at least one who feels the American Le Mans Series might very well be better off if they left.  And while I may be hard on Audi, personally I'm on the fence.  But Audi's results still speak for themselves; the Audi R10 has been unbeaten all year, performance adjustments or not.  You just would have hoped that Audi would have relished some competition for once.  Though there seems to be a simmering undercurrent, is Audi indicating they will make good on their oblique threats to leave (see August 13, 2006 news item)?  That this keeps coming into the public eye might be Audi's way of playing chicken.  IMSA has replied, what will Audi do?  Hopefully put their toys back in the toy box and get on with it.

>>2007 Schedule for the American Le Mans Series
 
Wheels Down Winter Test, Sebring January 22-24
Sebring 12 Hours March 12
St. Petersburg March 31
Long Beach April 14
Houston April 21
Salt Lake City May 19
Lime Rock July 17
Mid Ohio July 22
Road America August 11
Mosport August 26
Detroit September 1
Petit Le Mans October 6
Laguna Seca October 20

9.28.06

>>The Peugeot 908.  A couple of interesting details on the fly here, note the lack of center rear wing supports.  The endplates are doing all the supporting, and the regulations only state a minimum distance between supports, says nothing about mandating center supports.  Though the regulations also state, "3.6.3 b.3 - Surfaces (wing supports) must be flat and parallel to the longitudinal centreline of the car," which these are not as they bend in at the bottom to attach to the car.  But probably more importantly, the regulations also state, "3.6.3 b.7 –With the attachments of the end plates to the bodywork disconnected, the vertical supports must be able to withstand a vertical load of 10 kN, equally applied on the surface of rear wing." Though I'm sure someone clever could create a way that they were "attached" to the bodywork as well as the main structure.  Also note the lack of valence panels covering the valley created between the pontoon fender and the sidepod leading edge.  Still, this is just the concept and not the final artifact.

>>Porsche RS Spyder updated!  Looking much more purposeful, the RS Spyder has been substantially reworked.  Claiming improvements in aerodynamic efficiency through optimization of the rear wing and diffuser as well as improved cooling, in addition to 23 more hp (now up to a claimed 503 hp), Porsche is clearly preparing for Acura.  Upgrades to the gearbox will allow for faster shifts and at the same time improve reliability.  With this redevelopment of the RS Spyder Porsche has kept reduced cost as a design goal in light of future customer programs.
One of the more interesting details is the airflow management out of the chassis.
The various valence panels keep the car's bodywork to the legal minimums while allowing for a much more aggressive use of the areas underneath.  Attention to detail is evient, note the unusual double reflex curve dive planes (detail image below).
Every bodysurface has been altered (with perhaps the exception of the roll over hoops and airlicked monocoque sides) though it still bears a strong resemblance to the '06 RS Spyder.
9.21.06

>>B-K Motorsports is back.  Having taken the repaired C65 to Road America for a shakedown, the car now heads south for the Petit Le Mans.   For Petit and the Laguna Seca finale, the 3-rotor Renesis based Mazda R20B engines will be prepared by SpeedSource Engineering.  B-K's 2007 plans have finally been set in stone with the announcement to be made at Laguna Seca.

9.16.06

>>In the market for a Sauber C9?  Armin Rautenhaus has chassis C9-05 up for sale.  This car has been fully restored and is the only C9 in private hands.  This is John-Louis Schlesser's 1989 Championship winning car and has an extensive race win history with no fewer than five victories to its credit (1989: Jarama, Nuburgring, Donington, Mexico, Suzuka, 5th @ Le Mans).  The car is located in Switzerland and comes with a number of spares (vehicle transporter, extra bodywork, wheels, etc.).  Armin indicates that the engine has been preserved and would need to be made race-ready.  If interested parties want to first test the car the engine can be prepared but at a cost of 20,000 Euros (which will be credited towards the purchase price of the car).  Armin can be reached via the website he has set up for the car.  Asking price is 2,500,000 Euros.

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©Copyright 2006, Michael J. Fuller