• Aldermaston Grand Prix circuit

    There was sad news for those working in the British nuclear sector last week, when it was announced that there will be 500 job losses at AWE Aldermaston.

    However, there may be hope on the horizon for the minions of Aldermaston, for the aerial photograph provided by the BBC clearly indicates that the former RAF Aldermaston airfield is the perfect location for a Grand Prix circuit.

    The prospective layout sketched above suggests a mix of slow-speed 90-degree corners and long-straights, with a high braking and traction requirement. Particularly exciting is the long main straight, which resembles that at Macau, including a flat-out kink leading onto a long, wide stretch which eventually funnels into the heavy-braking area for a tight hairpin. Rather like Turn 1 at the Cleveland airport circuit in the USA, this would, no doubt, become a key overtaking spot.

    One imagines wisps of tyre-smoke mixing with the gaseous tritium discharges, as the drivers battle it out, wheel-to-wheel. Happily, with the lower noise emissions of contemporary Formula 1, there seems little chance of triggering an unexpected criticality in one of the facilities, but in such an event the odd blue flash would simply add to the razzmatazz of the event.

    The nearby town of Tadley might seem an unlikely host for a round of the World Championship, but in some respects it is not dissimilar to parts of Azerbaijan, which will feature on the Formula 1 calendar for the first time in 2016.

    Source: mccabism

  • Ferrari, cheating, and pop-off valves

    The September 2015 issue of Motorsport Magazine contains an interesting interview with erstwhile McLaren and Ferrari engineer, Gordon Kimball. Together with some revealing anecdotes about Senna and Berger, Kimball also concedes the following:

    “In 1988 I was engineering Gerhard Berger in the F187/88C. That was the year McLaren dominated with Honda and Bernie did all he could to help us. It was the era of turbos and pop-off valves and we had a low-pressure passage that went past the pop-off valve and would pull it open, so we could run more boost. We kept pushing that further and further, waiting to get caught, but we never were. I guess Bernie wanted somebody to try to beat McLaren, so he helped us.”

    FISA Pop-off valve (drawing by Bent Sorenson, reproduced from ‘The Anatomy and Development of the Formula One Racing Car from 1975’, Sal Incandels, p200)

    Now, the first point to make here is that it is actually fairly well-known that engine manufacturers were flouting the pop-off valve regulations in the late 1980s. The pop-off valve was first introduced in 1987, when it was intended to restrict turbo boost pressure to 4.0 bar. The valve was supplied by the governing body, FISA, and attached to the plenum chamber, upstream of the inlet runners to each cylinder. A new design pop-off valve was then introduced for 1988, which was intended to restrict boost pressure to 2.5 bar.

    Ian Bamsey noted the following in his monumental 1988 work, The 1000bhp Grand Prix cars, “In 1987 some engines were coaxed to run at more than 4.0 bar. With a carefully located single pop off valve merely an irritating leak in a heavily boosted system as much as 4.4 bar could be felt in the manifold. The key was in the location of the valve. It was possible to position it over a venturi in the charge plumbing system. Air gained speed through the venturi losing pressure. Either side of the venturi the flow was correct and the pressure was higher,” (p29).

    In fact, there appears to have been at least two distinct methods of flouting the 4.0 bar limit. If one attached the pop-off valve over a venturi, then one could keep the valve closed (contra Kimball’s explanation) even if the effective boost pressure was greater than 4.0 bar. A second method simply involved inducting compressed air into the plenum chamber at a greater mass-flow rate than the open pop-off valve could vent it:

    “Turbo boost was theoretically restricted to four bar via popoff valves, but there was a way around this on self-contained V6s like the Honda. They required just one pop-off valve (as opposed to those like the Porsche and Ford which effectively ran as two separate three-cylinder units and so needed two pop-off valves) by overboosting, forcing the pop-off to open and then controlling it against boost. It meant 900bhp in races, 1050bhp in qualifying,” (Mark Hughes, Motorsport Magazine, January 2007, page 92).

    Indeed, the general suggestion at the time is that it was Honda, rather than Ferrari, which first identified these loophole(s). Bamsey makes this point in his superb 1990 work, McLaren Honda Turbo – A Technical Appraisal: “By mid-season [1987]…Ferrari is believed to have achieved levels of 4.1/4.2 bar through careful location of the pop off valve, a technique Honda is alleged to have pioneered,” (p92).

    The next question, however, concerns what happened in 1988, when the more stringent 2.5 bar limit was imposed, and a new design of pop-off valve was supplied to the teams. This valve (perhaps by deliberate design), was somewhat tardy in closing once it has been opened:

    “The new pop off opened in a different manner and once opened pressure tumbled to 2.0 bar and still the valve didn’t close properly…on overrun the effect of a shut throttle and a still spinning compressor (the turbine not instantly stopping, of course) could cause pressure in the plenum to overshoot 2.5 bar. In blowing the pop off open, that adversely affected the next acceleration…The answer to the problem was in the form of the so called XE2 [specification engine]…run by all four Honda cars in the San Marino Grand Prix.

    “The XE2 changed the throttle position, removing the separate butterfly for each inlet tract and instead putting a butterfly in each bank’s charge plumbing just ahead of the plenum inlet and thus ahead of the pop off,” (ibid 1990, p91-92).

    No questions of dubious legality there. However, Bamsey also explains that an XE3 version of the engine was developed by Honda, purportedly for exclusive use in the high-altitude conditions of Mexico City: “The Mexican air is thin – the pressure is around a quarter bar – so the turbine has to work harder. Back pressure [in the exhaust manifold] becomes a potential problem, affecting volumetric efficiency and hence torque. Power is a function of torque and engine speed: Honda sought higher revs to compensate. Thus the XE3 employed an 82mm bore size and it was apparently tuned for a higher peak power speed. It was a complete success and on occasion was tried for qualifying elsewhere thereafter (in particular, at Monza),” (ibid. 1990, p92).

    What’s interesting here is that the XE3 seems to have caused some scrutineering difficulties at Mexico. Road and Track magazine reported that there was “a claim that Honda had built vortex generators into its system – which would allow it to use more than 2.5 bar – and FISA scrutineers spent an unusual amount of time examining the McLarens in Mexico,” (Road and Track, volume 40, p85).

    Generating a vortex would offer an alternative means of keeping the pop-off valve closed. Even with a constant diameter pipe, the pressure could be lowered by transforming some of the pressure energy into the rotational energy of a vortex. One would presumably need an expanding section downstream to burst the vortex in a controlled manner, but it does offer a method of reducing the pressure without using a venturi. It’s intriguing to read that an engine ostensibly developed for high-altitude conditions was used in qualifying for the rest of the season…

    So perhaps it would be wrong to cast Ferrari here in their stereotypical role as regulatory bandits. Although Kimball does also suggest that their fuel-tanks carried somewhat more than the mandatory 150 litres of fuel when they won the Italian Grand Prix that year!

    .

  • Yamaha heads to the USA for the GP of the Americas

    After a two-week break, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP is on its way for the second round of the season: the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on the 13th of April.

    The 2014 season may have only just started, but the GP riders have already displayed some intense racing at the Losail circuit in Qatar. The first race of the season was full of action and drama, a preview of what is … Keep reading

    Special thanks to: motorsport.com

  • Marquez snatches victory in classic MotoGP season opener at Qatar

    Marquez snatches victory in classic MotoGP season opener at Qatar

    Marc Marquez showed the world why he is the reigning MotoGP champion with the Repsol Honda rider snatching the victory of the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar after a classic battle with Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi at the Losail International Circuit with Dani Pedrosa sealing another podium finish in third for the Repsol Honda team.

    Jorge Lorenzo jumped into an early lead of the 22 lap race but the Movistar Yamaha rider looked to push his front Bridgestone tire too fast on the opening lap and violently lost the front end and ended his race while Stefan Bradl inherited the lead on the LCR Honda with the German rider making a great start with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Bradley Smith also very fast early on while Marquez was happy to stalk the leaders early on while Rossi was busy making up some place after start from the fourth row.

     

    The battle with Valentino was the best part of the race besides the win, I really enjoyed it!

    Marc Marquez

    The factory Ducati machine of Andrea Dovizioso was going well in the opening laps as was the Pramac Racing machine of Andrea Iannone until he lost the front on lap 2 with Rossi now left to chase GO&Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista. Behind these, Pedrosa was fighting with Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow in 7th and 8th early on. There was another sudden change for the lead on lap 8 when Bradl also lost the front on the same corner of Lorenzo and the race lead then handed to Marquez who had now passed Smith and the British rider was to fall further back in quick succession behind Bautista, Rossi and Pedrosa. 

    The race resumed a somewhat normal rhythm nearing the middle of the race with Rossi passing Bautista and then Marquez for the lead before he was re-taken by Marquez after just two laps while Pedrosa had now joined the group in 4th place. Making as many places up as he could was the NGM Forward Racing machine of Aleix Espargaro with the Open Class rider up to 6th place ahead of Dovizioso, Pol Espargaro on the second Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine and Crutchlow. Scott Redding (GO&Fun Honda Gresini) was also having a strong debut race for his MotoGP career and was battling with Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden throughout the race.

    Continue Reading…

dd