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Archive for April, 2013

Videos: Audi step up development of the 2013 R18 e-tron quattro

Ever wondered what a four wheel hybrid prototype race car sounds and looks like as it zooms by over 210mph? Even if you haven’t , you ought to check out this fantastic video of the 2013 Audi R18 e-tron quattro doing exactly that. I guarantee that you will be impressed.

Now pick your jaw up off the floor as there is more to report. It seems that Audi have developed a new variant of their R18 e-tron quattro by adding a ‘long tail’ to the car. Besides the obvious aesthetic changes to an already beautiful car, you may be asking yourself, “what exactly does this do?”

Well Audi believe that this new addition will help optimize straight-line speed for the high speed sections of the Circuit de la Sarthe, an optimization that may prove to be crucial to winning the 24 hours of Le Mans.

In order to have this car properly dialed in, Audi plan on bringing one of these long tail variants with them to the upcoming 6 hours of Spa that takes place on May 4th. They will run the car alongside two of the normal spec R18 e-tron quattros.

It is pretty clear that Audi aren’t getting complacent with Toyota and are doing their absolute best to ensure that they retain their dominance at Le Mans.

It is clearly evident that sports car racing is at the top of it’s game, especially when considering the changes that have taken place in recent time. The 6 hour event at the legendary Spa Francorchamps will only be the second race in the 2013 World Endurance Championship, and I have to say, it is already shaping out to be a phenomenal season.

Be sure to check out these other videos taken from the recent test at Monza!

Follow me on twitter @B_Warren7

 

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The Sim Racing Rig that uses a 2006 Lola Champ Car Chassis

I want one of these..

We consider ourselves to be avid sim racers over on this blog. We participate, organize, and broadcast in major sim racing leagues utilizing rFactor, GTR2, RACE, Game Stock Car, iRacing, etc. Some of us even take it to the next level and build our own custom rigs to help bring in that immersion. Some of us use actual racing seats, expensive wheel/pedal setups, and make use of a triple monitor setup.

However, this blows all of that out of the water.

CXC Simulations created a Champ Car themed custom simrig based off their Motion Pro II racing simulator. The rig uses a 2006 Lola Chassis, hydraulic pedals, and three 55″ TVs to help create the ultimate sim racing experience.

CXC decided to use this rig to create their own parody of the GoPro camera commercials.

If any of you are interested in sim racing or want to know what leagues we particate in, then follow this blog and stay tuned! We plan on posting about the topic on a regular basis. If you simply can’t wait, then feel free to email us at theracingedge1@gmail.com

Follow me on twitter @ B_Warren7

Peugeot 208 T16 test photos released along with rumors of Climb Dance 2!

Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak

Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak

What a great time to be a motorsport fan! Honestly folks, after such an exciting weekend I expected a relatively quiet week in which we could work more on the podcast. Well this is a time where I am more than happy to admit being wrong because photos have surfaced of the Peugeot 208 T16 testing for the upcoming Pikes Peak International Hill Climb! (At the very least, I now have a good reason as to why I am not getting any work done this morning)

For those of you who may not be in the know, Peugeot is throwing all their weight into this hill climb with the 208 T16. The mighty machine will race to the clouds with nine time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb behind the wheel!

But wait that’s not all!

As of today, there are talks of Peugeot planning a sequel to Climb Dance. Let’s hope these talks turn into reality, for this should be a no brainer for Peugeot and Red Bull. If you don’t even know what Climb Dance is, then you need to immediately stop everything your doing and check out this amazing short film. Released in 1990, Jean Louis Mourey directed this award winning film that featured unique camera angles and amazing on board shots of rally legend Ari Vatanen taming the famous peak with a Peugeot 405 T16 at his disposal. If you haven’t seen the video then you need to stop everything and watch this beautiful piece of cinematic art. Once this requirement has been met, then you need to check out the recent promo video released that features the new 208 T16.

Why Toyota Motorsport Has My Support For The 2013 World Endurance Championship

It is no secret that Nick and I differ when it comes to favorites in the WEC/ALMS/ELMS, especially when it comes to the two major works teams in the LMP1 classification. While Nick is a big Audi fan I can’t help but cheer on Toyota. I can’t say much for their struggles in F1, but I certainly enjoy their rich history in sports car racing, rally racing, and car culture in general. I mean who can forget their iconic racing machines throughout the 1990s such as the Toyota Castrol Team TOM’S Supra or the WRC Celica GT-Four ST 165, 185, and 205?

When it comes to motor sports, Toyota often supports teams using their hardware within various racing categories. However, they do launch a full works campaign every once in a while and whether they win or lose, they always seem to create something quite unique. It is no secret that Toyota have a chance of winning Le Mans this year and winning the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship. This will not be easy for them as Audi will provide fierce competition every step of the way. Audi has been insanely popular in the sports car world and has certainly emanated success on multiple platforms when it comes to endurance racing. They command a mighty fanbase thanks to their excellent marketing, product, race wins, and the always fantastic Truth in 24 documentaries.

However, while many still remember the blunders of Toyota in the world of F1, I still think this is a company and motorsport team well worth your time and support for various yet not so obvious reasons.

What’s so special about Toyota?
I have to admit I wasn’t always into racing or cars. Growing up I was obsessed with aircraft and cars simply did not impress me all that much. This changed when I encountered the second generation Toyota MR2. This car spoke volumes to me in terms of it’s unique aesthetic and mid engine placement. It was a car that quickly became my first love in the realm of affordable sports cars. It may have not been the fastest, but it was certainly unique and a testament of Toyota’s willingness to push new boundaries.

First love

First love

I must also confess that my interest in the MR2 led me to discover the insanely popular Japanese anime, manga, and arcade racer series Initial D. A series that I will always hold close in one way or another as it helped propel my interest in international racing. Initial D featured many characters and cars but the real protagonist of the story was another iconic Toyota. Namely, the AE86 Toyota Sprinter Trueno. A true underdog of a car that achieved monumental results in the common driver’s racing world. While production of this car ended in the late 80s, it still lives on in the world of performance cars and was instrumental in granting the title of “Drift King” to Keiichi Tsuchiya. Once again, it wasn’t the fastest but it had such a unique feel to it that it is no surprise it became such a cult classic. The AE86, in my mind, will forever be one of Toyota’s greatest grassroot achievements.

The reason why I mention the MR2 and the AE86 is because they are testaments to a unique philosophy that Toyota presents when it comes to their performance cars. They go off the beaten path and attempt to blaze their own trail to success. It came as no surprise when I found out that Toyota see it from this perspective as well. In fact, they try to spread this type of philosophy into areas beyond car design and production. In 2001, they released  “The Toyota Way”, which was essentially a set of guiding principles for the management side of their manufacturing operations. These principles were able to translate into a very practical set of management methods that ended up revolutionizing how companies across the world approached their own methodology. The Toyota Way keeps it short and simple: continuous improvement, and respect for people.  While the former is almost a given for companies, the latter isn’t always there.

This is what really draws me in with Toyota. Their respect for people and how it is reflected through their car design. This isn’t just because their cars are unique, but because they are able to share this uniqueness (for lack of a better term) by connecting with the everyday driver. Don’t get me wrong, Audi creates wonderful cars, but these cars aren’t exactly affordable and they can be difficult to relate to. Toyota helped pull me into racing as a whole because they were able to give me this sense of inclusion by creating unique car designs at an affordable price. Whenever I drove or rode either of these cars I felt that I could appreciate the countless hours and effort that went into it’s design. In a way, it was a pragmatic start to a very existential feeling. It wasn’t just the connection between man and machine, but the fact that I could relate this connection to others around me in a more streamlined fashion. These cars were highly visible and easily accessible.

The real protagonist of Initial D, The iconic AE86 Toyota Sprinter Trueno

The real protagonist of Initial D, The iconic AE86 Toyota Sprinter Trueno

Toyota Returns in Style
Toyota returned to the premier sports car racing stage as an official works team in 2012 with their hybrid TS030. Designed by Toyota Motorsport GmbH, the TS030 was viewed upon as an exciting design that could change the sports car racing scene altogether.  However, the established champions at Audi debuted their own diesel hybrid in the equally impressive R18 e-tron Quattro. The challenge became greater for Toyota at this point,  since the advantage of having a hybrid car was seemingly equalized by Audi’s own hybrid design. So it came down to Audi’s flywheel based hybrid all wheel drive system vs Toyota’s late decision to have their system deliver the power to the rear via the use of a super capacitor. Once again the 24 hours of Le Mans would be the stage for a truly epic battle between two competing automotive technologies. A type of battle that had been missing from the international spectacle for a few years.

Despite this hype, a lot of folks remained skeptical on just what the TS030 could do. The general consensus was that 2012 would be a year of teething and thus minimal results for the hybrid prototype. Even Toyota had to admit that they were not expecting themselves to be competitive for some time, as their main priority was on further developing the THS-R design. This type of negative thinking began to escalate to new heights when Toyota had wrecked their car at Spa and was unable to compete due to supply related issues. As a result, they had very little time for testing and had to make a lot of last minute preparations for  the upcoming 24 hour main event at Le Mans, France.

Despite these disadvantages, the team put their heart and soul into a mighty effort and were able to impress at Le Mans and stay strong throughout the rest of the season. The debut 2012 season of the FIA World Endurance Championship ended up being one of success for the team as they scored 3 wins and showed strong pace at Le Mans. In a very real sense, ‘The Toyota Way’ and it’s philosophical tenet of continuous improvement was applying the talk to the walk.

2013 and Beyond
Fast forward to 2013 and Toyota has shown that it is definitely prepared for the challenges that lay ahead in order to stand at the top of the podium. The TS030 is now a seasoned veteran. The drivers, crew, and engineers now command a greater understanding of this truly impressive machine. While I know there are many who may disagree with me, I sincerely believe they can bust the monopoly that Audi has on the 24 hours of Le Mans and win the WEC championship altogether. This is definitely their year to shine, provided they can accomplish this monumental task. They have a strong driver lineup along with a highly motivated and experienced team that know what it takes to win. Plus the facility at Toyota Motorsport GmbH is just downright impressive. Seriously, checking this place out is well worth your time.

Much like their cars in the past, Toyota have once again entered the scene with a truly unique and evolving design.

Much like their cars in the past, Toyota have once again entered the scene with a truly unique and evolving design.

The opening chapters of the story that is the World Endurance Championship will be forever marked by this clash of the automotive titans.  This mark will certainly not remain dormant in the world of motor sport, for it will extend beyond that in the car market as a whole. Assuming that Toyota will stay consistent with it’s history of providing easy access to their sports car market, then the next unique performance road car that Toyota designs will rest on the success of this hybrid machine. A success that we can all have the opportunity to share in!

When I review what this team is bringing to the fold I am finding that all the expectations for a major sports car endurance team on my checklist are fulfilled. Innovative technology? Check.  Proven facility/personnel ? Check.  Impressive philosophy? Check.  Great drivers? Check.

It wasn’t just the checklist that convinced me to support this team’s effort  nor was it just down to all the reasoning I gave earlier in this article. At the end of the day, it was how Hisatake Murata was able to sum it all up in the video above. At the 3:32 mark, the Project General Manager said the following:

We perfected this hybrid system in a joint operation with the HV Advanced Development Department Team at our Headquarters. In reality, we are now engaged in a project to develop a car destined to be the forerunner of a road car that will be marketed some time in the future.

I love how he put that. This isn’t a car designed for show nor is it merely designed to just win races as a one trick pony. This car has a freaking destiny to fulfill.

Now that is something I can cheer for.

Follow me on twitter @B_Warren7

Battle of the Strategies

April 14, 2013 Leave a comment

After a three week gap and the dust settling over the Red Bull saga, the Formula 1 circus rolled in to the Jiading circuit in Shanghai, China. After the practice sessions it was evident to see that the Lotus and Ferrari’s were quick on the long run pace. Tyre degradation was the biggest concern though as the soft compound was degrading at such a high rate.

Qualifying was uninspiring due to the teams conserving tyres for the race. Only seven drivers setting Q3 times with Button, Vettel and Hulkenburg settling for slow times or no times to optimize strategy on the Medium compound tyres. Lewis Hamilton made the most of the soft tyres and taking pole position.

As the five lights dropped the Mercedes of Hamilton had a good jump and pulled away from second position Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus who in turn was swamped by both Ferrari’s of Alonso and Massa. A clean start for the rest of the field behind as Kimi settled in to fourth position.

Fernando Alonso wanted to make an early impression and lay down a marker and on lap three with DRS enabled swept around the outside of Hamilton in to turn one and with a great run out of the final corner, Massa took second spot off Hamilton going in to turn one. The soft tyres, as predicted, dropped away after just six laps. Mercedes gambled and stacked their cars on pit entry, but thanks to some slick pit work Hamilton had a quick stop and Rosberg was serviced in quick sharp time also. Ferrari opted not to stop both cars and Massa lost out massively by staying out one lap longer and dropped to fifth and never recovered from that position.

With thanks to © Getty Images and ESPN

Mark Webber started from pit lane after his car stopped out on track in qualifying without fuel due to a fuel rig bowser error meant that his car was not carrying the required fuel sample putting him to the back of the grid. Red Bull decided to start the Australian from pit lane to break parc fermé and allow for setup changes. This all came undone on lap fourteen when Webber tried to pass the sister team car of Vergne in to turn six but the door was firmly slammed in front of him and it damaged the front wing. After his stop there was an issue with the rear left wheel at it popped off in turn fourteen forcing him to retire from that race.

Story of the opening part of the race was how Hulkenburg was able to get past both Button and Vettel and had great pace in front of Vettel. They pitted on the same lap for new medium tyres but a slow stop for Sauber allowed Vettel through. Sauber on the second stop switched the soft compound but left Nico out for too long and his race pace fell away and dropped backwards through the field.

Due to the strategic warfare playing out it allowed for plenty of overtaking but the DRS zones were too powerful and allowed for relative easy overtakes unless you are Kimi Raikkonen. The Lotus with clearly more grip tried to go to the outside of turns four and five to negotiate a slower Perez at the time but was pushed way out on the grass and speared in to the back of the McLaren damaging the front wing. The Iceman opted not to pit and to battle on, to his credit considering the understeer he still maintained great pace.

If it was not for that damage it would have been likely that Kimi could have made an impression on Fernando Alonso who at this point was romping away to an emphatic victory. Controlled, patient and calculated allowed the ‘all-round’ best driver to secure his first win of the season in front of Raikkonen and Hamilton.

The Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel was on the mirror strategy by starting on the mediums and running them all race until the last five laps where he pitted and came out thirteen seconds behind Hamilton’s Mercedes. Vettel’s imperious driving qualities once again prevailed by holding on to those tyres but also smashing the lap times and came right up behind Hamilton going in to sector three of the final lap. On the approach to turn eleven both cars had to negotiate a Caterham and Vettel ran too deep in to the corner, he ran under the one second marker required for DRS but could not make the impression in the final couple of corners and Hamilton took another podium for Mercedes.

One week now before the chaos resumes in Bahrain. This race will hold special regard for me after visiting the track in 2011 for the race to be cancelled and also my parents living in the volatile country for three years. Protesters have already started to use the F1 as leverage to make their voices heard once again for the human rights campaign. It is likely tyres will again be at the forefront of the teams minds. I for one sincerely hope the tyres are the only issue and the Grand Prix is not over shadowed by politics as the teams head to the Middle-East.

The first official trailer for RUSH has arrived!

Ron Howard directs this highly anticipated film about a time where Formula One was a whole other monster. The story is based on the incredible, yet true, story that shaped the 1976 Formula One season. Namely, the intense rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. This rivalry is considered to be one of the most intense in sporting history, and the events that unfolded that season was something that seemed to be born for Hollywood. Honestly, Formula One could not have picked a better story for the big screen.

Within the video description there is a plot summary that says it all really

Set against the sexy and glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing, Rush portrays the exhilarating true story of two of the greatest rivals the world has ever witnessed—handsome English playboy Hunt and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Lauda. Taking us into their personal lives on and off the track, Rush follows the two drivers as they push themselves to the breaking point of physical and psychological endurance, where there is no shortcut to victory and no margin for error. If you make one mistake, you die.

This could be the first film that finally does Formula One justice since the 1966 film Grand Prix. So it should go without saying that we are more than excited for the initial release date on September 20th, 2013.

Race Worthy: Down South, Down Under, or Under the Lights?

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Perhaps the best type of dilemma to have is one where any decision can be seen as the right decision. This particular dilemma is exactly what I faced in having to rate which race would be worth watching the most for this upcoming weekend. It is hard to choose whenever any decision made will be seen as both the best choice and worst choice, depending on who you ask. Luckily, there was no difficulty in narrowing it down to the following three choices:

1. Under the Lights: Moto GP Season Opener @ Losail International Circuit, Qatar

  • First event of the 2013 season that is sure to answer a lot of questions and set the tone for the rest of the season. 
  • Intense teammate battles set to take place among the works teams.
  • A unique setting – the only Moto GP race to take place at night under the lights in the middle of a desert.

2. Down Under: V8 Supercars @ Tasmania

  • Amazing production value that really draws in hardcore viewership
  • 3 races over the course of the weekend
  • “First V8 Supercar event to experience the new 60/60 Super Sprint race format, designed specifically to produce more spectacular and compelling racing. These changes coincide with the introduction of Nissan and AMG to the grid in 2013, adding a ‘pure racing’ element without the need for fuel or tyre conservation.” – via the Tasmania event website

3. Down South: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama @ Barber Motorsports Park

  • Amazing track with it’s own unique and charming features both on and off the road.
  • Faster cars and recently resurfaced track ensures that track records will be broken
  • Did I say amazing track?! There is a reason why teams like to test here.

If you could only watch one race live, I would have to recommend the Moto GP race. The teammate battles among the works teams are likely to be intense and produce some thrilling on track scenes. Plus the season opening race will mark the start of an extremely promising season that may see a rookie rise to the top, a legend add another title to his history, or a veteran finally get his first title.

Honestly, all three of these events are worth your time. Each one has it’s own slew of interesting stories and each wields a variety of advantages in terms of location, technology, and racing potential. You can’t go wrong.