2012 World Endurance Championship
2012 FIA World Endurance Championship Schedule
Mar 17 - Sebring, USA
May 5 - Spa, Belgium
Jun 3 - Le Mans Test Day, France
Jun 16-17 - 24 Hours of Le Mans, France
Aug 26 - Silverstone, UK
Sep 15 - Interlagos, Brazil
Sep 29 - Bahrain
Oct 14 - Fuji, Japan
Oct 27 - Shanghai, China
Engine: 3.4-liter V8
Power: 500 hp
The new team, which is based at TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany, will make its race debut on 5 May in the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. TOYOTA Racing intends to enter two TS030 HYBRID cars in the subsequent Le Mans 24 Hours (16-17 June). Participation in further rounds is yet to be confirmed.
A driver line-up of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima has already been confirmed for one car while discussions are still ongoing to finalize the driver line-up for the other. Additionally, Andrea Caldarelli, from Pescara, Italy, has joined TOYOTA Racing as a junior driver.
The TS030 HYBRID is TOYOTA's successor to the iconic TS010 and TS020 cars, which participated at Le Mans with podium success during the 1990s, with TS an acronym for TOYOTA Sport.
TOYOTA is the first manufacturer to confirm its participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship using a hybrid system, the pioneering approach to this technology which has seen more than 3.5 million TOYOTA hybrid vehicles sold worldwide.
The THS-R (TOYOTA Hybrid System – Racing) powertrain is designed to deliver maximum performance and features an all-new V8 3.4-liter normally-aspirated gasoline engine and hybrid system with capacitor storage developed by official team partner Nisshinbo.
The team will use the TS030 HYBRID's first test to evaluate the merits, within the current regulations, of a front motor system produced by Aisin AW and a rear motor system developed by official team partner DENSO. Those regulations limit hybrid systems to recovering a maximum of 500kJ between braking zones whilst restricting deployment to only two wheels.
Like Toyota's full hybrid road cars, energy is generated under braking and the TS030 HYBRID can operate in electric-only mode, achieving zero emissions and zero fuel consumption.
A brand new carbon fiber LMP1 chassis has been developed and produced at TMG, where the complete car was assembled for the first time in preparation for a roll-out at Paul Ricard.
During an exclusive test session at the French track, which included running in darkness, the TS030 HYBRID completed several hundred kilometers, showing an impressive level of reliability and performance for this very early stage in the car's testing program.
Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre both put the TS030 HYBRID through its paces at Paul Ricard, joined by 30-year-old Japanese driver Hiroaki Ishiura, who is a candidate to join the driver line-up at races where TOYOTA Racing participates with two cars.
Official partners to the TOYOTA Racing program also include ZENT, Aisin, Nippon Steel, Takata, Toyoda Gosei and Michelin.
Yoshiaki Kino****a, Team President: "Of course we would love to win Le Mans; that is the dream for all competitors in this race. But we are realistic and we know we need to develop and to learn in order to compete with some very strong competition. Our target this year is to show the performance level of our car and particularly the THS-R powertrain. Hybrid is a core technology of TOYOTA so it is important to demonstrate this in a motorsport arena and we want to prove it can bring a performance advantage, both in terms of lap time and fuel efficiency. Everyone involved in designing, developing and preparing the car – both at TMG and at Motor Sport Division in Japan – has worked incredibly hard to reach this point and we are all very excited to be back on the race track again."
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: "The two main performance drivers of our TS030 HYBRID car are the aerodynamics and the hybrid system. The regulations for hybrid powertrains allow us to recover energy under braking and release this to improve acceleration out of a corner, delivering lap-time benefit. For any given performance level, a hybrid powertrain will achieve this with less fuel so it is an extremely relevant technology and one we are excited to be bringing to endurance racing. Another key point in our development phase has been delivering aerodynamic efficiency. The development team at TMG has worked very hard to achieve an optimum aero concept using our state-of-the-art aero development processes based on combined wind tunnel testing and CFD. Judging by the positive feedback we received during the roll-out we have a very good base on which to build in the coming weeks."
Hisatake Murata, Hybrid Project Leader: "TOYOTA has been working on hybrid systems for motorsport for several years, during which time we have made huge progress. Now we feel ready to bring our technology to the ultimate motorsport test: the Le Mans 24 Hours. Integrating a hybrid powertrain is, of course, a different challenge compared to a 'standard' powertrain. But we have worked together with partners such as DENSO, Aisin AW and Nisshinbo to develop the THS-R technology so it is part of the overall concept of the TS030 HYBRID. This technology will be used to recover up to 500kJ between braking events, energy which can be released via either front or rear motors to deliver a performance advantage. TOYOTA's hybrid technology has already won a 24-hour race – the Tokachi 24 Hours in 2007 – so now we are bringing the latest THS-R development to global motorsport; we know this is a technically-demanding exercise but we are well prepared for the challenge."
Alex Wurz: "It was cool to drive the TS030 HYBRID car for the first time. Just leaving the garage on the electric power is very futuristic, then when you let the clutch go and the internal combustion engine kicks in it is like an old friend has returned! When we put on the slick tyre I could feel the car generates a very good amount of grip so I think we have a good base and I think we can turn this into a really fast car. I am definitely very happy but my nature is to also be analytical and therefore I know there is still a lot of work to be done. It's really good to work with all the mechanics and engineers; the TOYOTA Racing team is very international and this works well. I am very comfortable in this team because they are all extremely professional, that is really clear."
Nicolas Lapierre: "My first impression from the roll-out was positive; the chassis is really advanced and the hybrid system works very well. The TS030 HYBRID car has good reaction to the steering with quick and efficient response combined with an impressive base level of downforce, which is a nice feeling for a driver. It is totally different from anything I have known before because the philosophy is different. So our roll-out was promising and we saw the car's potential on several levels; we still have plenty of work to do but I think that we will have a strong package. We are starting from a blank page so the challenge is exciting."
Kazuki Nakajima: "It was a very exciting and interesting experience to drive a Le Mans Prototype for the first time. The cockpit is tight compared to what I drove before, but I can drive nicely. The car seems to have a lot of potential and I try to get close to the limit to see this potential. It is well balanced, and nice to drive. The hybrid system is also very interesting, especially because we start to use it better."
TOYOTA Racing completed a successful first full test of the new TS030 HYBRID car which will compete in the LMP1 category in selected races of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The team spent three days at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France for the first full test of the TS030 HYBRID, following a three-day roll-out at the same circuit earlier this month. Using the a configuration of the track which includes the complete Mistral Straight, all three race drivers – Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima – had the opportunity to test the new car, which features the THS-R (TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing) powertrain.
The test program built on the positive work already achieved during the TS030 HYBRID's roll-out, when systems checks and basic set-up analysis was carried out. This week the team had many areas to study, including the THS-R powertrain, particularly during longer stints, while taking the first steps towards optimising aerodynamic and mechanical set-up. In addition, Michelin tyre compounds on the TS030 HYBRID were evaluated for the first time.
In total, the TS030 HYBRID completed over 2,000km and demonstrated a satisfying level of performance and reliability. TOYOTA Racing's next test is planned for mid-February.
Yoshiaki Kino****a, Team President: "We can be pleased with the outcome of this test. It has gone smoothly and delivered a lot of very useful data, which will help us to prepare for our first season back in endurance racing. Of course, there are many challenges when introducing an innovative technology such as a hybrid powertrain in motorsport but I have been very impressed with how the team has approached this test and the results are very encouraging."
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: "Although we are a little behind schedule in terms of total mileage we have made very good use of our track time. It's important at this stage to give a first indication to our tire partner Michelin about the development direction needed for the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID and this has been done together with other performance developments. At the same time the pace is increasing as our drivers explore closer to the boundaries of the performance envelope of our package. We see clearly an acceleration of our development rate based on their indications. This gives a lot of push and dynamic to our track operation; it's an exciting time to be a TOYOTA Racing engineer."
Alex Wurz: "Obviously it's nice to be back in the car. We are continuously evaluating and improving, so I am happy with these three days. We are working hard and making good progress since the roll-out. During this test I have worked on the set-up, drivability and traction control; we are just beginning to work on tire evaluations. Of course I am enjoying this chance to drive the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. More and more we test, more and more we find things to improve: that's positive. We realize we have to work hard because you have to work on the details; I am a perfectionist."
Nicolas Lapierre: "The test went well. I had the opportunity to do longer stints and it's great to cover more laps; we are becoming more familiar with the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. The weather conditions were perfect and consistent when I drove so we saw how the car reacts to our changes. I did some work on the Michelin tires and my first impressions were good. Generally I feel better and better at the wheel; we are evolving in the right direction, especially on the hybrid system, which we continue to optimize. We all know more about the car and what we have to do to improve."
Kazuki Nakajima: "It was exciting to jump into the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID for the first time and finally drive it for real after a few sessions in virtual reality on the TMG simulator. The car has a lot of potential and gives the driver confidence, which is impressive considering the early stage of development. The hybrid system is very interesting; it feels quite natural and certainly gives a nice boost when it kicks in. We have made a good start to our testing program but there is still plenty of work to do so I am looking forward to spending even more time in the car in the future."
The TS030's hybrid storage system, developed by Nisshinbo, eschews batteries. Instead, capacitors are the energy storage medium and they are located opposite the driver in the cockpit. Toyota confirmed publicly that the test car is currently set up to power either the front wheels (system designed by Aisin AW) or the rear wheels (designed by DENSO) with their hybrid powered motor systems.
Obviously the 3.4-liter V8 powers the rears, but the technical decision is where to place the motors for the hybrid power. According to the rules four wheel drive is allowed, but with one exception: you can't power both front and rears at the same time, that is, they hybrid system engages when the V8 is disengaged and vice-versa.
But where to place the weight in the chassis becomes the concern with the hybrid system. And as the rules allow freedom of where to direct the drive, this is an area where some thinking will occur before execution. Toyota's current test program will evaluate which is optimal within the regulations and make a decision at a later date.
Honda Performance Development unveiled its largest customer endurance racing program to date, as six teams will campaign a total of seven HPD-powered LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes in the 2012 World Endurance Championship and the American Le Mans Series.
"In recent years, teams running HPD engines and chassis have delivered remarkable results at some of the world's greatest sports-car races," said Steve Eriksen, HPD vice president, "starting with an amazing LMP2 victory - and second and third overall finishes - at our endurance racing debut, the 2007 12 Hours of Sebring. Another highlight was Strakka's LMP2 victory and fifth-place finish overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010, also on our first attempt!
"Returning to LMP1, while continuing our LMP2 program, will be the biggest challenge yet for our engineers and associates," Eriksen added, "but I'm extremely confident in our capabilities and look forward to another exciting season in 2012. We expect that the proven design, development and engineering expertise of HPD and its technical partners will provide our teams with the tools they need to succeed. It will be an exciting season."
Three teams, all experienced, accomplished racing organizations, will campaign the new HPD ARX-03a in the LMP1 class. The British-based Strakka Racing group continues its three-year association with HPD, but moves from LMP2 to the premier category in the new FIA World Endurance Championship with drivers Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts.
Joining them on the WEC grid in 2012 will be JRM Racing, which comes to LMP1 after winning the drivers' title in the FIA GT-1 World Championship last season. Now, drivers David Brabham, Karun Chandok and Peter Dumbreck will have HPD's LM-V8 engine and new ARX-03a chassis at their command for the eight-race WEC schedule, which begins March 17 with the classic 12 Hours of Sebring endurance contest.
Sebring also marks the start of the 2012 American Le Mans Series, where Greg Pickett's Muscle Milk Racing team will debut the ARX-03a chassis it will campaign during the full ALMS schedule for team regulars Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr.
In addition to the LMP1 program utilizing the new ARX-03a chassis and proven HPD LM-V8 normally aspirated, gasoline engine, HPD will continue its support of the cost-capped LMP2 formula in 2012, which features the production-based HR28TT twin-turbocharged V6 engine powering the new HPD ARX-03b cost-capped LMP2 chassis.
Fresh off an undefeated LMP2 season with HPD power in the 2011 ALMS, Level 5 Motorsports returns to defend its team and drivers' championships, and HPD's LMP2 engine-manufacturers' title, with a pair of new ARX-03b chassis for regular drivers Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker. The team also plans on returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, following up on their strong third-place finish in LMP2 last year, in their inaugural attempt at the French racing classic.
Level 5 will be joined on the ALMS grid this year by Black Swan Racing, which will campaign an HPD-powered Lola B10/80 coupe after winning the ALMS GTC championship in 2010. The driving duo of team owner Tim Pappas and Jerome Bleekmolen now move up to LMP2 competition as part of the HPD lineup.
Another American-based team has announced plans to take part in the full WEC schedule, as the Florida-based Starworks Motorsport team completes the 2012 HPD sports-prototype lineup. Coming off a strong second-place finish at the recent 24 Hours of Daytona, the Starworks HPD ARX-03b will join the LMP2 grid for the first time with team regulars Ryan Dalziel and Enrico Potoliccio behind the wheel.
In 2011, Wirth Research and Honda Performance Development announced a new long-term technical partnership building upon the global successes achieved in recent years - a partnership that has produced numerous class and/or outright victories in all the world's premier sports-car races and championships, including the Le Mans 24 Hours and 12 Hours of Sebring.
Sebring (3.7-mile) Test
LMP1: Honda ARX-03a _ 1:48.192
LMP2: Honda ARX-03b _ 1:51.522
LMGT: Ferrari F458 _ 2:00.061
"It's awesome. This is one of the best Wirth cars I've driven," said Pagenaud, who has driven three previous HPD/Acura prototypes, including last year's ARX-01e.
"It's such a big evolution from last year's car. The engine gives us good power, the front splitter gives the car additional downforce and the new tub gives us better efficiency as well. It's generally the same aero package as the car we ran last year."
For Reference Only
Sebring (3.7-mile) Lap Times
SCCA CSR: Swift-JMS _ 1:58.796
Prototype Lites: Elan DP02 _ 2:00.882
TOYOTA Racing completed its first long-distance endurance test during a three-day session at Paul Ricard in France. In just its second full test, and its third time on track including a roll-out, the TS030 HYBRID was faced with the tough challenge of a 30-hour endurance run.
The long-distance test began on Thursday afternoon following initial sessions to evaluate various performance developments. Sébastien Buemi, in his first test as an official TOYOTA Racing driver, started the marathon session, followed by his team-mate in car #8 at Le Mans, Hiroaki Ishiura. Car #7 team-mates Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima also took turns behind the wheel of the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. The test ended with TOYOTA Racing having achieved its primary goal of completing a significant number of laps to evaluate the car over very long distances.
TOYOTA Racing will now concentrate on preparing and updated package for the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, its first race of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship season. The next tests are scheduled for April.
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: “We have done some valuable tests and this has contributed to our ongoing development of performance, reliability and organisation. The endurance test was an interesting experience; we were expecting challenges for everyone in the team and we weren’t disappointed! It’s not easy on the car or the people but we are all passionate about this project so a strong team spirit saw us through to the end. We are content with the results and the conclusions we have been able to draw, which will accelerate our preparations for our first race.”
Hisatake Murata, Hybrid Project Leader: “This was the first time we have run the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing over such a long test session so we never expected a trouble-free week and we did experience a few issues, but nothing major. Thanks to a large amount of data and the detailed feedback of all the drivers, we have a lot of information about how the THS-R powertrain behaves. We have been able to use this already to refine our systems and before the next tests we will work more on some of the issues raised. We have achieved our primary goals for this test and I am happy with how it has gone.”
Alex Wurz: “The test has been interesting and we have gained valuable experience. In terms of development, we continue to optimize the interaction between all components, including the hybrid system. As a result, the car is progressing. During our endurance test we did encounter some issues but that is why we are testing. The team sprit here at TOYOTA Racing really strong and it has again been a pleasure to work with the guys; we know and understand each other better and better with each day. Overall I would say I am generally pleased with this test.”
Hiroaki Ishiura: “It was a really exciting experience to drive the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID during an endurance run for the first time. Actually, this was my first time to drive this lay-out of Paul Ricard and I had to do it in the dark, so my first task was to find my way around! We don’t drive much at night in Super GT so I don’t have a lot of experience of this; it was a very useful test for me in that sense. It was good to complete a lot of laps and I’ve enjoyed working with the team again.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “Overall the test was good. It was the first time for me to participate in an endurance test and it allowed us to prepare in circumstances much closer to race conditions. This meant running in some very cold conditions but even then the car and tyres were working well. I did a lot of stints so I was really busy and we put plenty of mileage on the car. We have a sound basis and the car shows good potential but we now need to work on the details and develop some areas. We are on the right track and things continue to go well.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “I did some development work and also participated in the endurance test. I am quite positive about how it went for a first long-distance simulation with the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. We can see how the car reacts to various different conditions, such as the cold track temperatures we may encounter during the night at Le Mans. The car felt pretty good in these conditions, which is not always easy here at Paul Ricard. The package is evolving and improving; we have fixed some issues, corrected some little details and overall we are moving forward.”
Sébastien Buemi: “It was nice to discover more about the endurance racing environment. I have been in the driving simulator at TMG so I had an idea of what to expect but the reality is always a bit more complex. From a technical point of view the car is very impressive although we still need to make progress in some areas, which is normal at this stage of testing. I did some long stints and learned about new aspects of endurance racing, like driving at night, managing fuel consumption and adapting my driving style. I can see that every detail is important in order to be fast in this discipline.”
Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Motor sport is used yet again by AUDI AG to pioneer new technology: the brand with the four ring's new Le Mans race car is the world's first LMP1 car to combine a highly-efficient TDI with a hybrid system. quattro drive also celebrates its comeback to the race track with the prototype - in a entirely new form.
Audi R18 e-tron quattro is the name of the new Le Mans prototype that makes its race debut on May 5 in the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and fights for overall victory at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans (France) on June 16/17. Audi unites two technologies in a fascinating way to create a new type of drive, which is also already being tested for future use in production cars: e-tron quattro.
Hiding behind this description is the next generation four-wheel drive with which Audi combines the advantages of the proven quattro drive with the potential of electromobility. To this end one vehicle axle is powered conventionally, the second by electric motors.
"Audi has always consciously selected championships and categories in racing that have a close relationship to production and therefore have technical relevance for the Audi customers," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, who personally drove the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro onto the stage on Wednesday evening during its world premiere in the Audi Training Center at Munich airport - electrically and almost silent. "quattro, TFSI and TDI are three excellent examples of how motorsport has stimulated production development. A similar tendency is apparent with the e-tron quattro: we test a completely new technology on the race track before it's introduced to the Audi production line."
On the Audi R18 e-tron quattro kinetic energy is recovered on the front axle during the braking phase. It is fed as electric into a flywheel accumulator before being retrieved under acceleration again above a speed of 120 km/h. During this procedure only the front axle is integrated. The V6 TDI power plant producing 375 kW (510 hp) continues to transmit its power to the rear wheels. Both systems complement each other to create the new drive principle e-tron quattro.
Project began in February 2010
The project e-tron quattro for motorsport started in February 2010. Only 18 months passed from the initial conceptual ideas to the first test. "This is a relatively short cycle for a technology that has never been tested in motorsport and which still doesn't even exist in production," stresses Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport. "The challenge is correspondingly big."
Audi Sport developed the Audi R18 ultra in parallel to the Audi R18 e-tron quattro - because Audi takes a two-pronged approach this year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the newly created FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) - the 2012 model year Audi R18 is built with and without hybrid drive. The trick: the base of both cars is completely identical, which is why the additional logistical effort is kept limited for Audi Sport and the race team.
"The TDI engine invented by Audi is still the most efficient drive in the world," says Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "We are convinced that the TDI has even more potential. This is why Audi not only supports the hybrid in motorsport as it does in production, but in parallel also the further development of the conventional drive."
Innovation in transmission area
The R18 e-tron quattro's twin brother more than lives up to its model name ‘R18 ultra': it is the lightest Le Mans prototype that Audi Sport has ever built. To compensate for the additional weight of the hybrid system the subject of lightweight design and construction was the focus throughout development of the 2011 Le Mans race winning R18 TDI. In addition to the many detail optimizations there is also a genuine innovation in the transmission area: a new gearbox with a carbon-fiber composite housing was developed for the R18 - a premiere for endurance racing.
"The new R18 ultra is a distinct evolution of last year's Le Mans race winning car," summarizes Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "Our drivers' impressions were very positive from the first moment. Without the weight optimized R18 ultra we would have not been capable of realizing the R18 e-tron quattro which is absolutely identical with the exception of the hybrid system."
Le Mans 2012: two R18 e-tron quattro and two R18 ultra
Audi Sport Team Joest will field two R18 e-tron quattro and two R18 ultra prototypes in the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 16/17. The two hybrid cars are driven by last year's winning trio Marcel Fässler (CH), André Lotterer (D) and Benoît Tréluyer (F) as well as Dindo Capello (I), Tom Kristensen (DK) and Allan McNish (GB) who boast a total of 13 Le Mans wins between them. New signing Loïc Duval (F) starts together with Timo Bernhard (D) and Romain Dumas (F) in an R18 ultra as do Marco Bonanomi (I), Oliver Jarvis (GB) and Mike Rockenfeller (D).
Audi Sport Team Joest also contests the World Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) on May 5 in the same formation. At the same time the race doubles as a dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only Mike Rockenfeller will miss this race due to a clashing date with the DTM.
After the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi plans to enter an R18 e-tron quattro and an R18 ultra in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). André Lotterer and Allan McNish have been nominated as the drivers so far.
At the World Championship opener at Sebring (USA) on March 17, Audi Sport Team Joest relies on the proven R18 TDI from last year, which are driven by Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer, Dindo Capello/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish as well as Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas/Loïc Duval.
Audi R18 e-tron quattro
In accordance with the regulations it has a drive system that operates on the front wheels with electric motors turning through the hybrid system and V6 3.7-liter diesel driving the rear, a big change from last year. To accommodate the hybrid system we have gained 100 pounds on the 2011 R18 that was already ultra-light.
Tom Kristensen: "This new car is great right away", explained the Dane. "The feeling we have at the wheel is great with increased traction generated out of corners."
The R18 e-tron becomes a four-wheel-drive car within certain limits laid down in the Le Mans rulebook. The regulations allow 500kJ (approximately 70bhp) of stored energy to be transfered to the wheels between two braking 'events' at speeds above 120km/h (75mph).
The rules allow energy retrieval on only one axle. The advantages of choosing the front wheels include improved traction and greater efficiency during the recovery process.
Audi has chosen to use a flywheel or accumulator for energy storage rather than batteries or the super-capacitors favored by rival Toyota.
Christopher Reinke, Audi Sport's technical project leader LMP, said: "A high power density is crucial during energy recuperation. The accumulator must be capable of absorbing a lot of energy within a few seconds during the braking stage."
The flywheel has been developed by Williams Hybrid Power, which also produced the unit for Porsche's 911 GT3-R Hybrid.
Though racing Unclassified and so having to start from the back of grid, the Porsche GT3R Hybrid 2.0 made its mark dominantly on the West Coast in the USA at the ALMS Laguna Seca race (Monterey/California) in Sep 2011.
The GT3R finished in 10th position, behind the faster LMP type machines but finishing clear of the world-class field of factory GT cars. The honors included setting overall fastest race lap amongst the GT vehicles, consistently matching or beating the pace of the strongest of them, as well as proving efficiency by stopping only 3 times for fuel as compared to at least 5 stops from fastest of the GT competitors.
The hybrid system, with Williams Hybrid Power's MLC electric flywheel at its core, ran without fault throughout. This marks another solid proof of prototype for WHP and, once again, a positive result with important partner Porsche Motorsport.
Only in the last two decades has flywheel technology been seriously considered for use in mobile applications. It was held back by prohibitive weight and unwanted precession forces. Both of these characteristics are determined by the specific tensile strength (the ratio of the hoop stress to material density) of the flywheel. Advances in carbon fiber composite technology has allowed the specific tensile strength to be greatly improved leading to the development of light, high-speed flywheel systems. Test vehicles, particularly buses, have been produced using mechanical flywheel systems with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to transfer power to and from the flywheel.
The next evolution was electrically-driven flywheels which do not require a CVT system thus avoiding added weight and reduced efficiency. Electrically-driven flywheels have another important advantage over their mechanically driven relatives in that vacuum integrity is easier to maintain as no high speed mechanical seal is needed. WHP's MLC flywheel is electrically driven.
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