We got to get an early look at Ken Blocks super awesome 1400 hp, mid-engine, tube frame, unequal length A-arm suspension, AWD, Porsche 911 this week and boy are we impressed! In the near future, look for a complete feature on the car but for now, you can get a close look at the car’s aerodynamics as an unveiling party isn’t the place to do an all-out tech shoot! We had actually gotten a close look at the car under construction at BBi Autosport but the project was secret and there were embargos to respect. We can tell you the car bristles with a level of technology more akin to Prototypes and open-wheel racing than sedans and time attack cars. The chassis is tubular with a driver’s cell and narrow modules for the front and the rear with a possible structural carbon floor. The only Porshe body parts are the roof skin and the A and B pillars. The narrow front and rear sections allow for long arm, unequal length A-arm suspension with pushrod damper activation. The dampers are KW Motorsport solid piston 4-way. The suspension geometry which we can usually find fault with most custom builders is correct! The rear of the car uses a custom Sadev transaxle and transfer case, which with the engine block serves as structural members with the transaxle case serving to mount the rear suspension and wing. We will give you more details at a later date.
The car’s aerodynamics were developed by our friends at Verus Engineering and are the results of many hours of CFD optimization. They are many very subtle tweaks of the aero package that can only come about with CFD and you can see them in the car’s bodywork. Beyond the basics, aero isn’t intuitive and CFD allows the engineer to experiment with many surface geometries to a degree that isn’t possible with physical testing. It is a tool that results in the amazing shapes seen in F1 cars and this car. The aero is so complicated that we suppose that the bucks for the carbon panel molds were generated using a large bed 3D printer directly from the data generated by CFD.
We can start at the front of the car. One of the unique things about Pikes Peak is that it is run on public roads, roads that are in pretty bad shape on the top third of the course. The pavement is cracked and super bumpy due to frost heaving and changes during the course of the day. This means that Pikes Peak cars have to have relatively high ride heights and soft suspension. This is not conducive to the use of the underbody of the car for making a lot of consistent downforce. There are a lot of small details in the aero that helps the car make the most of the underbody even with a high ride height and softer suspension. The first thing we noticed is the aero elements are not ridiculously huge like what is found on many Pikes Peak cars. The air is thin at high elevations and many builders use ridiculously large elements to try and eek downforce out of the wispy air. Big front elements tend to be very pitch sensitive where chassis movement can cut off the downforce to the rear diffuser sort of like how a snowplow scoops up fresh snow. Ken’s car shows some subtle shapes to the underside of the moderately sized splitter to reduce pitch sensitivity. First, a moderately sized splitter isn’t going to come as close to the ground during brake diving, bump response, or cornering roll as a huge long one that overhangs the front of the car by a lot. You can see here that the center underside of the splitter is raised. This allows airflow under the car to feed the tunnels and rear diffuser even if the splitter gets close to the ground. You can also see the gentile bullnosed contour of the lower leading edge of the entire splitter. This reduces the cut-off effect that the front of the splitter can have on airflow as it gets near the ground plane.