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Martin's George Howard-Chappell is doing what he does best, whinging. An
article on Autosport.com quotes Howard-Chappell as signaling the death
knell for coupes at Le Mans with the elimination of the increased inlet
air restrictor diameter alloted to the closed top cars. "There will be no incentive to do a closed car, and you need that because a coupe is more work." That said, Howard-Chappell seems to impishly add, "There
is a small aerodynamic advantage in running a closed car," only to
hammer in,"but there are so many negatives." Woe is me. Let's say the
"small" aerodynamic advantage is on the order of 5% increased L/D, this
would equate to about a 50 lb. drag reduction, or conversely, a 200 lb.
increase in downforce. Just in looking at the drag figures, you're
looking at a 3 mph advantage in straight line. So with that said, I'm
sure the "disadvantages" of engineering doors, a windscreen wiper and
defogging system, as well as the additional weight higher up (so many
disadvantages after all) is well worth the aerodynamic advantage for
just showing up with a roof on the car.
>>Wirth Research has commissioned a development program to design a new LMP for 2011, this according to Nick Wirth.
Not wanting to wait around for Acura's decision (which is due,
"before the end of 2009"), and with the 2011 rules in hand, Wirth
Research has already begun preliminary design work. Says Wirth,
"...we have a few ideas." At this early stage, not knowing what
engine will be used isn't as big a detriment as it might seem, "That's
not a major/early issue with 2011 power plants and our car
architecture." Therefore there isn't necessarily an "Acura" badge
on this LMP. But given that the
privateer chassis market is rather tight, Wirth Research doesn't have
any interest in pursuing a LMP on their own. That
being said, it does appear a manufacturer would need to be involved as
Wirth admits, "[there's] no funding required to move forward at the
moment, but funding [would be] required to complete the project."
Le Mans news:
Wirth on Friday in the paddock, he was excited with the prospects of a
wet race and he got his
wish. Unfortunately it still didn't play into the ARX-02a's
hands. There are those on the teams that feel the wide front
concept simply hasn't worked.
We also spoke briefly about
the Scott Sharp incident. Wirth mentioned that everything was
destroyed in the accident, "...even things like the battery box were
destroyed." The replacement tub was the 3rd chassis, and more
notably, the only
replacement chassis. There are no others.
their rebuild, Highcroft "cribbed" their chassis setup from De Ferran.
Apparently that's been the nature of the relationship all
no competitive barriers between the organizations.
leads us to what we're hearing about the future of the Acura program.
It is growing less likely that we'll see Acura return (Gordon
Kirby has already said Acura is done). We
understand HPD staff has been let go and we also understand that since
about mid-season the HPD effort has had it's budget cut such that there
are no spares on the shelves, everything is made to order from Wirth
Research with a 6 week delivery time. Has Acura already made
decision? It's looking likely and it won't be the one we'd
Motorsports head Wolfgang
Ullrich was heard over the race track PA system talking with Radio Le
Mans about the future of the Audi R15, and it was interesting to hear
him mention the hold up with the ACO over the future regulations might
cause pause for Audi to continue forward. At very least it
in his words, "...frustrating". Completely understandable
considering, as mentioned on these pages, the ACO draft regulations for
2010 face us with regulation changes for next year in the face of major
changes for 2011 which doesn't make an ounce of sense. But at
same time we understand that in all actuality Audi is well into the
design of the R15's successor ("successor" as a 2010 update of the R15
or a true 2011 car we're unsure--but we can imagine both are underway)
such that Audi Motorsports was operating with a skeleton crew at Petit;
most of their engineers were back in Germany working away on the new
Michelin engineer was overheard confirming that Audi's issue at Le Mans
year were tire and downforce related. Apparently the R15
generates significant downforce and a factor fold more than the Peugeot
908 which could nearly triple stint its tires at Le Mans.
told the ECO Radical tipped the scales into the 4-digits, i.e., well
past the 900 kgs minimum. They were a non-starter due to
over-heating concerns. Ironic considering the ambients on
day were a good 15 degrees below what had been seen throughout the week.
Race Car Engineering's Acura ARX-02a and Audi R15 articles
received the draft text of the 2010 ACO regulations, these are the
relevant bodywork changes:
The complete rear wheels
must not be visible above the horizontal plane passing through the axle
centreline. They must be hidden by means of rigid bodywork elements
These elements must:
- Have a constant
- Be designed in
such a way
that air passing through them is directed toward the ground at the exit.
- Be strongly attached to the
bodywork throughout the event. Should one part or the whole elements
missing; the car will be stopped in the pit.
bodywork behind the rear
wheel centerline and more than 200mm above the reference plane must
smooth, continuous, unbroken surface without cuts, and be visible from
the car with the rear wing removed. Vertical surfaces or surfaces with
shapes are allowed so long as their entire top edge is visible from
2010 only, for the cars homologated
for 2009, the rear fenders of which are not entirely in compliance with
above rule, waivers could be granted by the ACO
at the express and justified request of the manufacturer
- The waivers so granted follow
the spirit of the rule above (no excrescence on the bodywork),
- the request is made to the ACO
before October 30th, 2009,
- a detailed description of the
rear fender is given to the ACO
If these waivers are
granted, they will be sent to the other competitors and no modification
of the rear
fenders will be permitted in 2010
Art 3.5.4 - Front part
the area situated :
the front contour of the car,
the front axle centreline,
overall width of the car,
At 300 mm
maximum from the reference surface,
parts of bodywork from the
underside must form a continuous surface, without openings, slots or
The only openings permitted are the minimum gaps necessary for wheel
suspension part movements (suspension travel and steering) and sensors
measuring the ground clearance (LMP1 only).
edges of the elements that form this
surface (trailing edges) included those in front of the front wheels
Be forward of
the front axle centreline,
minimum thickness equal to 3% of the
maximum length of this surface (vertical projection), and no less than
exception of the front edge of these
elements (leading edge), the distance between the lower surface in
the air streams and the upper surface in contact with the air streams
greater than the thickness of the trailing edges over the entire area
2010 only, the surface visible from the
underside between the front of the car and the front axle centreline
made of 2 separate elements provided:
- They are in front
of the front wheel axle
- They have a
- The trailing edge
has a minimum thickness
equal to 3% of the maximum length of the profile and no less than 10 mm.
- the trailing edge
is perpendicular to the
profile center line
- They are no
profile extension beyond the
2010 only, the surface visible from the
underside between the front of the car and the front axle centreline
rearward of the front wheel axle centreline, and it is permitted to
rear trailing edge thickness to no less than 30 mm.
3.5.6- Skid block
the end of the practices and at the
beginning of the race, a maximum wear will be permitted of :
- 5 mm on the flat sections situated in the front and at
the rear of the skid
mm on the rounded section in the middle of the
3.6- Aerodynamic devices
profiles must not have a profile
extension beyond the trailing edge and the trailing edge must:
- Have a minimum
thickness equal to 3% of the
maximum length of the profile but no less than 10 mm.
- be perpendicular
to the profile center line
- Have a trailing
edge of 30 mm minimum. With
the exception of the leading edge, the thickness of the profile must be
than the thickness of the trailing edge over the entire area of the
There are discussions that the ACO plans fewer bodywork changes for
2011 than previously expected. One wonders then the status of
regulations aimed at further reducing the chance of yaw induced flips
as that appeared to have been one of the ACO's focus in regards to bodywork changes
rainy day at Road Atlanta. Drizzle persisted off and on
fortunately there wasn't the downpours associated with yesterday.
All of the prototypes present (Acura, Audi, Autocon, Drayson
Lola, Oreca-Courage), barring Peugeot, made it out on track
week the Audi is running the revised specification that the car raced
in at Le Mans this year. Here we see the revised engine
The revisions to the rear engine cover were
apparently as a
direct result of a request from the ACO.
the engine cover as Audi raced at Sebring this year.
nose vent exit is reduced, again, as raced at Le Mans this year.
one of Audi's issue at Le Mans this year was a result of the
downforce load the car was carrying and the Michelin tire's inability
cope with those loads. This was a known issue ahead of the
and much time and effort was put into finding a solution.
Ultimately, given the short time frames (8 weeks before the
race), this led to a compromise in the car's setup. In order
reduce front load the chassis was raked nose up.
This led to
the third spring element to be fully packed out with bump rubbers,
effectively compromising grip and traction in the
critical areas of the track (Porsche curves, Ford
addition to the tire issue, it is our understanding that the R15 was
also simply carrying too much drag for Le Mans. Apparently
the ducts that channel air through the rear of the car were
generating too much drag for downforce gained. The suspension
shrouds were an attempt to mitigate this but their effects were
negligible and the shrouds were effectively invisible from
reduction standpoint, hence they were on (Sebring, one car ran them the
other didn't) and then off the car (Le Mans and now Petit).
the moment the R15 is being revised for 2010 and the Petit Le Mans is
being considered a post-Le Mans test session with the revised 2010 car
is our first close up look at the Oreca 01 AIM. This is a
shot of the rear diffuser strake, notice the cut outs.
louvers but for one for the Oreca at Road Atlanta.
so I was a little overly critical of the Eco Radical effort yesterday.
In fairness the car seems much better turned out than the
time I saw the car at Sebring in 2008. Recall then (
that the rear wheels weren't even centered in the wheel wells; clearly
that car never was going to race anywhere. Well much to their
credit, the diesel Radical was out turning laps today (and yesterday),
even in the wet.
running at Road Atlanta in preparation for the Petit Le Mans this
coming weekend was effectively washed out and culminated in a
gully washer just after noon time. IMSA canceled running as
was washing onto the track, the paddock, pit lane, etc., etc.
used the time to set up and simply catch up on car maintenance.
Drayson had their new Lola to bits.
were working away. It's good to see them back. The
in Le Mans specification but Road Atlanta trim (downforce levels).
So essentially that means all the non-circuit specific
modifications we saw on the Audi (turbo intake, revised rear wing
endplate mounts, air vent behind front wheel trailing edge, etc.) are
on the car this week.
Eco Radical SR10 has arrived. Ian Dawson was seen looking
the details. We understand they are slated to run through the
scrutineering line on Wednesday at 11:40am. Is it being
in pointing out they will be one of the last teams to run through the
days of winning the Le Man Series manufacturer's title, Aston Martin
Racing (Charouz Racing specifically) has put up for sale one of their
chassis from this season. According to Racingcars24.com, Lola Aston
Martin LMP1, chassis #
B0860 HU 02, can be yours for about $1,765,000. What
for Aston Martin racing after this year if they are selling
has an article that addresses that. In a nut shell, Aston
via Prodrive, will be designing their own bespoke LMP1 aimed at the
2011 regulations. What happens next year, though, is less
It appears there is a good chance that Aston Martin will
skip next season to focus on 2011, this indirectly as a result of the
lack of published regulations for 2010, but also to more heavily invest
into Aston Martin Racing's future.
few weeks ago the ACO released this document
which defined chassis regulations changes expected for 2010.
document laid out the areas of the car and commented on what was in the
pipeline for the rear of the car but stated that while changes to the
front were forthcoming, they were not yet determined:
At the front:
within 15 days of the aerodynamic definition of the front of the cars.
It is currently under study and consultation with the manufacturers
taking into account the technical feasibility and cost issues.
We are now told that the ACO has finalized the regulations for the
front end of the car.
new front end regulations define trailing edge thickness of wing
(chord) sections with the primary rule stating that the trailing edge
thickness is to be 3% of the chord length with a minimum of 30 mm for
chord lengths over 1000 mm, and a minimum of 10 mm for chord lengths
under 333 mm. It's interesting to note that these chord
are for either symmetrical or non-symmetrical wings, therefore there's
no benefit to running symmetrical wing sections any longer.
Recall that symmetrical wing sections had some
design freedom in that their placement was free (true
producing, non-symmetrical wing sections were limited to the rear of
the car, i.e. the rear wing) and you were allowed a "pointy" trailing
edge; there was an unwritten regulation that stated
that non-symmetrical wings sections had to have a
trailing edge thickness of 30 mm. So in essence there's no
any reason to utilize symmetrical wing sections given the trailing edge
thickness rules don't make any distinctions between the two.
At the rear, the changes were stated:
of the part behind the rear wheels. The use of grills or fairings to
cover the rear wheel above the axis of the axle will no longer be
allowed. The bodywork must be closed in this area and must carry the
rear lights, rear stop lights and indicators.
in essence, any opening above the rear wheel centerline needs to be
covered by bodywork. We understand that the ACO has further
stipulated that any air allowed to pass through this bodywork can't be
directed upwards. So if you were going to put a louver panel
this area you have to point it downwards. They also state
this part must be rigidly attached to the car and that if it becomes
dislodged during the event it needs to be replaced. The ACO
adding drag to the cars with these changes.
The ACO also added this definition regarding the bodywork at the very
rear of the car:
On the sides:
located at the rear of the axis of the rear wheels and above the
reference plate must form a smooth, continuous, unbroken surface of
convex form only, without cuts. It must not be set back more than 100mm
in relation to the width of the bodywork at the axis of the rear axle
Therefore bodywork can't be
offset inboard more than 100 mm (from the maximum width of the car).
The statement, "[bodywork] must form a smooth, continuous,
unbroken surface of convex form only," seems to be a difficult one to pin
down. If I
understand this wording, it would very much appear that every car on
the grid is illegal and will
need a redesign inasmuch as the trailing edge of the rear bodywork is
joined by concave
All of the modifications are aimed
at slowing the cars down or redefining previously controversial or
over all of the changes that need to be made, it
seems evident that every single car on the grid is non-compliant and
will need to be modified in some manner. But at the same time
ACO is adamant that
these are changes that need to be made for 2010 only; the ACO still has
not defined the 2011 chassis rules. And while it's reasonable
think that the 2010 modifications will carry through to 2011, we're
fully expecting there to be a rash of additional modifications further
aimed at reducing aerodynamic induced incidents with the implementation
of the 2011 chassis rules set. Thus it would appear big
would be expected for the 2011 rules that would require yet another
trip back to the drawing board.
far as I see it, the ACO needs to adopt the 2011 chassis rules now in
order to avoid the hassle and expense of modifying existing cars to
these new 2010-only rules now and then to have to do it again for 2011.
Now I assume that the ACO is studying the aerodynamic safety
concerns and the main crux of whatever happens to the 2011 chassis
rules will hang onto those expected changes. But
have had more than 12 months to define the new aerodynamics safety
rules, they should simply implement them for 2010 or simply
put all of
this off until 2011.
While the economy is showing signs
of recovery, the fact of the matter is that racing is a luxury and very
much dependent on discretionary
spending. But back to back regulation changes, 2010
2011, simply doesn't make an ounce of sense even in a good economy.
Is this further proof that the ACO's regulations are designed
one event only and the entire organization doesn't get racing series
management? I think so...
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