No, Andrew isn't smirking while trying to rip the air box out, but he did mention that there was no real way to package an air box capable of 900HP without disrupting air flow.
Coincidentally, I had a phone conversation with Andrew earlier today. He was breaking down to me the overall goal of the aero package he designed for the NEMO EVO. As any good designer needs to do, he really had to work around several potential compromises:
- The limited budget of the aero package – less than half of what the transmission cost.
- The team's limited experience running and developing an aero dependent car. This wasn't a negative aspect of the team, but only that the bulk of their experience was in forms of racing that were centered around mechanical grip (Aussie V8 Supercar and Porsche Cup Cars). Not everybody is an LMP engineer.
- There was limited tunnel time – 2 days.
- There was limited development and test time – the car was only run on track for several laps twice before WTAC 2012.
- It was a new team that he had never worked with before. There's always a potential for clashing personalities.
- Eastern Creek is a unique track in that it isn't a total aero track and that it isn't a total mechanical grip track either. After a very long front straight, there was a long high speed sweeper making the search for the balance between aero and mechanical grip a difficult one.
So he set a goal to create a package with the team given these potential compromises.
- The car had to have greater average downforce at all speeds rather than a peak downforce number which would make the car easier to drive overall. The analogy I could use as an engine guy was to make an engine have a broader powerband with more torque at any engine speed.
- The car could not be pitch, roll, yaw, or rake sensitive so that the team wouldn't try to fight the setup with mechanical grip type adjustments.
- He had to spend a whole lot of time with both CFD software and simulation software since most tunnels with belts cannot simulate yaw or roll.
- He had to draw on his past experiences and use some intuition to theorize. Based upon the theories he came up with and with some luck, he would be able to come up with a design that met all of these parameters.
- It all kind of worked out with the team and there were no clashing personalities. In fact, everybody worked extremely well together.
- The car's extensive array of sensors and datalogging would help to speed up the development and testing.
While it sounds like all of it should be the goal of any aero package design, the reality is that there really isn't a form of racing where all of these things are possible. Most race sanctioning bodies limit what the dimensions of the aero pieces must fit within. Pro class Time Attack does not. It's not like engineers have to squeeze that last 1% out of an almost finite shape in a tunnel such as in F1 or NASCAR. Essentially, a Pro class Time Attack car is almost a blank canvas. So Andrew was able to make huge improvements with each CFD iteration. This is what allowed him to design a package with the team that worked as well as it did and in such a short amount of time with almost no real world development. In fact, the only change they made at Eastern Creek was a quick rear wing adjustment. As he said, “It was almost serendipitous.”
That was me summarizing a 25 minute phone call during a break he had while setting up a new wind tunnel in Chiba, Japan and me in my secluded remote office where I try to write these MotoIQ articles. I may have chopped it up a bit, but that was the gist of it.
Of course none of this would have been as effective without Hankook's potent Ventus TD tire. This year's all new Ventus TD was a pretty damn good tire. The legendary lightweight and strong Volk TE37s also keep unsprung weight nice and low also.
Here's shot of Aussie V8 Supercar pilot Warren Luff on the left and Chris Eaton, owner of the NEMO EVO on the right. Chris built this car so that he could drive it and eventually enjoy it with his son. But given Chris' lack of seat time and the whole brand new race car thing, Luff was asked to work some of his magic. Thanks to his familiarity with Eastern Creek and the many years behind the wheel of race cars, NEMO Racing did in fact prove they had built 2012's fastest Time Attack car in the world.
Stay tuned for WTAC 2013!
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