Le Mans Series

Le Mans Series

The racing team behind James Glickenhaus’ Ferrari P4/5 Competizione has an eye on building an actual alternative fuel Ferrari LMP1 race car. How serious are these guys?

Apparently, serious enough to actually release a number of teaser images on what the race car is going to look like. With the success the Ferrari P4/5 Competizione had at the Nurburgring earlier this year - it broke the 599XX Evo’s lap time around the ’Ring, making it the fastest Ferrari to blaze around the track - and the fiery burning session it had later on, the team still managed to take 1st place in the Alternative Energy Class in the 2012 24 Hours of Nürburgring.

With the taste of success still fresh, the team is looking at the possibility of building a new alternative fuel LMP1 race car, only this time, it’s got its eyes set on the series’ top dog, the Audi R18 e-Tron Quattro.

“We’re considering various possibilities for 2013 and 2014," the team said in a statement. "The LMP1 rules for 2014 are very suited to an Alternate Energy Car and we’re exploring the possibility of building and racing P 4/5 LMP in 2014.”

While no official details surrounding the car have been released, these teaser photos appear to be more than just a pipe dream for these guys. The cost will most likely be more than just an arm and a leg, but success comes with a true price - literally and figuratively - and the team behind the P4/5 Competizione appears to be willing to pay it.

Acura NSX Concept

We are all patiently awaiting the release of the Acura NSX , which we all anticipate launching in 2015 featuring a hybrid-drive system of some sort. If you consider trying to dig up any little bit of information possible to satisfy our cravings as being ”patient.” As we wait, a report from Speed points toward Honda working on motorsport plans for its upcoming supercar as early as 2014.

Speed interviewed Steve Erickson, the vice president of Honda Performance Development (HPD), about this potential and he said “In America, there’s only a couple of sports car options for us. But certainly, I think Le Mans is ultimately where it make great sense to have a car to show its prowess. But I think it all depends on where the regulations go in the future.”

From that quote, we can only think that he is talking about entering the NSX into the American Le Man Series (ALMS), which recently announced a merger with Grand Am. The issue with the regulations is the fact that ALMS does not allow hybrid drive in its GTE class, but Grand Am had already announced that it would launch a GX class for hybrids in 2013.

So the final decision on that depends on whether the new merger adopts the GX class plans of Grand Am, or retains the ALMS ban on hybrid drive.

Another point that HPD is trying to hammer out is whether this will be a full-factory endeavor or if HPD will simply develop the cars and sell them to private customers for racing.

According to Erickson, the decision is “down to internal discussions” and they are trying to figure out “where does it make the most sense to race it?” From those two excerpts we can tell that the new NSX will see time on the race track, it’s just a matter of which race track we’ll see it on and when it will show up.

Source: Speed

Last year, we showed you the GreenGT LMPH2 model that was invited to the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans , but did not race. Now that Green GT has nearly mastered its art of alternative fuel usage, it is set to enter its newest invention, the GreenGT H2, to the 2013 running of the Le Mans endurance race.

This H2 is nothing short of an impressive piece of work, as it boasts a pair of three-phase electric motors that each produce 200 Kw of power, which equals out to 544 horsepower reaching the rear wheels. What’s even more impressive is the astounding 4,000 Nm (2,950 pound-feet) of torque these motors create – no, that’s not a typo, two-thousand nine-hundred and fifty pound-feet. Being this is fully electric, we assume that this massive torque amount is instantly available.

Now, in order to run an electric motor, you need batteries, right? Not so fast. You’re forgetting about the oft-left-out fuel cell technology. The H2 uses a hydrogen fuel cell to produce the electricity the motors require. The only emissions produced are in the form of water vapor and heat.

You may think that the GreenGT will run away from the competition with its 2,950 pound-feet of torque and 544 horsepower, but you have to remember that this technology is still in production. The GreenGT H2 can only run for a solid 40 minutes at a time before needing its composite tanks refilled with hydrogen.

We’re excited to see the GreenGT H2 in action and this is really our front runner as the eventual replacement for gasoline power in auto racing. It may even wind up in personal cars too.

In the early-1960s, Ford had gained an interest in long-distance road racing and decided it was time to invest in a car that could compete in the likes of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. In 1963, Ford and Ferrari Ferrari struck a deal for production, but Ferrari cut the project off after they couldn’t come to an agreement as to whether Ford could participate in the Indy 500 or not.

Ford then decided if Ferrari wasn’t going to work with them, they were going to beat them. Ford negotiated with both Lotus and Lola before deciding to go with Lola, but the car was a complete mess and retired much more than it finished. After the 1964 Nassau race, Carroll Shelby stepped in to right the ship.

Between 1966 and 1969, the GT40 went on to win the Le Mans an impressive four times in a row, entrenching it in racing history and propelling Carroll Shelby Shelby even further into legendary status. Following the 1969 model year, the GT project was shut down and the GT40 production stopped at just 107 cars, ending its impressive run.

Check out our full review on the GT40 after the jump.

Back in May, we announced that Audi was eliminating the traditional rearview mirror from its R18 Le Mans cars, due to its lack of rearward-facing glass. We also made it clear that a lot of additions to new cars come from successful experiences in the racing world. Well, the R18s ended up garnering a 1-2-3 finish in that race.

As expected, with success comes commercialization, and Audi has announced that its upcoming R8 e-tron will boast this digital mirror technology. This system will consist of a 7.7-inch AMOLED screen mounted in the traditional mirror’s spot. The “mirror” uses a rear-mounted camera to send a video feed, giving the driver a slightly wider field of vision than the average rearview mirror.

Here’s the issue though, the NHTSA’s law book still requires a mirror made from reflective glass to be mounted to all passenger cars. The law specifically states “Each passenger car shall have an inside rearview mirror of unit magnification” and it defines a “unit magnification” as “a plane or flat mirror with a reflective surface through which the angular height and width of the image of an object is equal to the angular height and width of the object when viewed directly at the same distance except for flaws that do not exceed normal manufacturing tolerances. For the purposes of this regulation a prismatic day-night adjustment rearview mirror one of whose positions provides unit magnification is considered a unit magnification mirror. ”

The issue is in the verbiage is that the phrase “ a plane or flat mirror with a reflective surface...” eliminates an LED screen, as it is not a reflective surface. Now, the law becomes nullified is the car comes with side-view mirrors that have 49 square-inches of reflective surface and offer a complete view of the rear end of the vehicle. Those mirrors would be huge for this supercar, so we doubt that exemption will be valid.

We’ll have to see exactly how Audi plans to get around this, or if the NHTSA makes adjustments to its laws.

Click past the jump to read Audi’s press release.

With the exception of NASCAR , the world of auto racing is in a bit of turmoil, especially in Europe. The SRO already announced that the FIA GT1 World and GT3 European Championships were canceled this year, and now we can add yet another European series to this list. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ALO) has just let us know that the European Le Mans Series’ (ELMS) last two races have been canceled.

The ELMS is citing a low number of cars at the starting grid for its cancellation of the final two event. This is not up for debate as a lowly 13 cars were at the starting line for last weekend’s event. Even at the debut event for 2012 only 21 cars in total arrived at the starting grid.

The combination of a competitive GT series in Europe and the global economic crisis are mostly to blame for the lack of entrants. All of the car owners are going to the races where there is the best money to be made, regardless of the event’s prestige.

There is a silver lining to this announcement, as a deal was struck for the remaining 14 teams in the ELMS to join forces with the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and run in the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans endurance race held at Road Atlanta. Given all of the European teams show up, this will increase the field at this race to 54 competitors, so things could get a little hairy at times.

The ELMS will give its drivers double points at this race, which will help compensate for the two canceled races.

We are hoping that this all gets settled down, as the ELMS has always been good for exciting races – more so than NASCAR , at least. We could even see a full season of the ELMS and ALMS teaming up, which may be a good idea for both series until this economic recession finishes its course.

Source: SPEED

We absolutely love the new SRT Viper , and have since the second Chrysler’s performance arm started teasing it. We also love videos of racecars zipping around tracks with awesome flyby shots. Well, you can imagine our excitement when a video of the new SRT Viper SRT Viper GTS-R – the car set to tear apart the American Le Mans Series – was released, showing it ripping up Virginia International Raceway.

This isn’t the first time we have seen the Viper GTS-R in action, but this video is a very telling one. All of the testing videos of the Viper GTS-R were on random tracks that the ALS does not use in its series. Well, VIR just so happens to be a part of this year’s ALS, and SRT has promised us that the SRT Viper will debut this season, but haven’t given a date.

With the VIR race coming up in September, and the fact that the SRT Viper looks just about race ready in the video – sans a little paintwork – we are thinking that the VIR race on September 15th is the likely debut date for this new machine. We could be completely off base here, but on the surface it looks this way.

Regardless of its actual debut day, we do know one thing; we cannot wait to see this thing on the track. Many moons ago, the Dodge Viper used to dominate this series, and we certainly expect to see the Viper jump right back into the 1st place slot that other cars have been keeping warm in its absence.

A while back, we weighed the possibilities of LPG and CNG making its way into our lives as an automotive fuel on a more regular basis. We determined that there is a niche market for it, but its chances of widespread U.S. use are highly unlikely. We did, however, mention that it does have a use in high-performance vehicles, like the Maxximus LNG 2000 .

It looks like the American Le Mans Series is starting to consider this a possibility, as it attempts to dig itself a niche in racing as a “green” automotive racing series. According to reports, Patrick Racing Team and Indy 500 legend, Jim McGee, are working hard toward retrofitting the 430-horsepower ORECA FLM09 American Le Mans racer with a natural gas injection system.

It is uncertain exactly what type of natural gas, CNG or LPG, the Patrick Racing Team is targeting right now, but we would anticipate it being LPG, due to its more widespread availability. Given the fact that natural gas has an average octane rating of 130, it makes a perfect racing fuel. The biggest issue is getting it connected to the existing Chevy engine without losing too much horsepower or fuel economy.

Also according to reports, the plans are to have this system in place and homologated in time for the 2013 ALMS racing season, which will kick off in March next year. That gives Patrick Racing just under a year to get this system in place, tested, and certified for racing. If this takes off, it could ultimately alter the path that automotive propulsion is taking now – a lean more toward the electric side – and skew it back toward the natural gas/hydrogen direction.

Granted, CNG, LPG, and hydrogen will not overtake electricity in hybrids on the grand stage, but it could bring about a slight shift toward these alternative fuels. We’ll keep a close eye on this project and let you know how it’s going.

Click past the jump to read to full press release.

Look in any dictionary and find the word “dedication.” Next to that word, paste in a picture of Nissan Delta Wing driver, Satoshi Motoyama, as that is all of the definition you need of being dedicated to a particular craft. After being slammed in to the wall by a rookie Le Mans driver and his vehicle becoming disabled, Motoyama had two choices, give up or fix it yourself.

See, in Le Mans there is a rule against the pit crew coming out to help repair any disabling damages to a car – a ridiculous rule in our opinion – but there is no rule against the driver trying to fix said damages. So Motoyama, with his mighty Phillips screwdriver in hand, went to trying to breathe life back into his disabled experimental car, with his pit crew not too far away telling him what to do at each step.

Motoyama removed body panels, in an attempt to free the apparently stuck wheels, but that just wasn’t working. After exhausting all of the team’s ideas, Motoyama conceded to the fact that the Delta Wing was not going to finish the race. After months of testing, tuning, and more testing, this experimental rig didn’t get the opportunity to complete the race, despite a pretty successful debut, where it sat near the middle of the LMP2 class with a fastest lap of 3:42.612.

Fortunately, there were plenty of cameras available to capture Motoyama’s valiant efforts and he certainly earned the respect of his peers and us in the media with his efforts. Check out the above video to see his attempts to get the Delta Wing back on the road and you’ll see just how important this race was to the Delta Wing team.

We have a feeling that this is not the last time we see the Delta Wing. It ran very well against the LMP2 class and may have earned an even higher fastest lap position, had it not been so heavily damaged.

To audiophiles, 18,900 watts of power in a sound system is music to their ears, but to us normal folk, it seems like ear drum torture. Regardless, Nissan decided to team up with the Ministry of Sound to create a Nissan Juke with a monstrous sound system in it and released it for public viewing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans festivities.

On the outside, this flat-black Nissan Juke looks wild enough, with its unorthodox paint job and various black matte decals affixed to its body. On the inside, however, this Nissan Juke takes a turn toward the extreme, in the form of an 18,900-watt mobile DJ booth.

With the hatch closed the two speaker boxes, which each house an 18-inch subwoofer and several mid- and high-range speakers, feed through a perfectly tuned box to provide 150 dB of bone-rattling audio through the compact crossover. When the hatch is opened, the massive speaker boxes go with it, turning this Juke into a rolling PA system.

Complete with a DJ station and ambient lighting, there is no need to go to the club; you are rolling the club around with you. The tunes are piped in through the head unit via Ministry of Sounds digital radio app, so there’s no CDs to change or logging songs onto an iPod or flash drive.

This type of system requires extreme electrical power and the puny 12 volts from the Juke’s system just isn’t enough. This system includes its own power source, which Ministry of Defense does not identify. We can only assume that it is a series of deep cycle batteries, or it runs at a limited capacity when running off of the Juke’s electrical system and can be cranked to full power only when its power supply is plugged into a standard household electrical outlet.

I am not a huge fan of rolling boom boxes, but even I have to say this thing is pretty bad ass!

UPDATE 08/20/12: Nissan has announced a multitude of updates on the Nissan Juke Box, beginning with it’s UK price of ₤17,895 ($28,000), a new batch of photos, and a new video of the crossover hitting the road! Plenty to check up on with the Juke Box.

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