The Holden racer that honors the past but looks far into the future

Just when you thought nothing truly exciting could come out in 2018 with the Holden logo on the hood, here’s the Bathurst Time Attack Concept. It was developed as a futuristic race car to mark the 50th anniversary of the company’s first major win at Bathurst.

The R&D department at Holden, in Australia, set about proving that Holden isn’t just a badge GM slaps on the Buick Regal. So they came up with a groundbreaking concept that uses fans that direct airflow in order to improve downforce through each and every corner the car tackles. It’s low, wide, electric and it isn’t real. It’s similar to a Gran Turismo concept car without being one. But we wish they’d make it.

I mean, look at it. Check the tunnels that run on either side of the monocoque, the ginormous diffuser at the back, the rear wing, everything looking like it came from 2040. And it does, in a way, because all the tech that the AVD group crammed in it isn’t all here – yet.

2018 Holden Bathurst Time Attack Concept Exterior Styling

  • Single-seater design with mid-mounted driving post
  • Glass canopy extending back over the width of the car
  • Intricate aerodynamics with venturi tunnels and inlets all around
2018 Holden Bathurst Time Attack Concept
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Remember the Holden HK Monaro GTS? Not many people to, but it’s an important model in Holden’s motor racing history. That’s because a yellow example driven by Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland – for just a lap – won the Hardie Ferodo Bathurst 500 race half a century ago. They weren’t among the favorites since both Ford and Holden brought, for the first time in the event’s history, works teams at Mount Panorama. Defying the odds, McPhee marched to the front thanks to a clever tire strategy and kept himself at the fore until the checkered flag fell and the No. 13 crossed the line as the winner.

It was the first major win for a Holden in what would become today’s Bathurst 1000 race, arguably the biggest four-wheeled racing event in Australia. To celebrate that victory, the Advanced Vehicle Design group within GM Holden Australia came up with a radical concept that envisions the Bathurst-dominator of tomorrow. It’s called the Bathurst Time Attack Concept because, unlike the Monaro of 50 years ago, it’s meant to obliterate the stopwatch, not run a whole endurance race.

Designed by a team led by Ewan Kingsbury, the concept was developed 100 percent virtually as a “digital advertisement for the advanced skills, capability, and technology of the GM Holden team,” as Richard Ferlazzo, GM Holden’s Design Director put it.

He then added in the same statement that “the Time Attack Concept racer is an illustration of how we can utilize cutting-edge technology to develop transportation solutions for the future. You can see from the extremely detailed approach to incorporating the advanced technology in our Time Attack Concept racer that this is more than just a visual exercise.”

But just stick to the visuals for a moment, shall we? What we have here is a brazen interpretation of how the ultimate race car with bodywork would look like. The front end is dominated by that huge opening which creates two tunnels that run on either side of the monocoque and exit just behind the front wheels. The thin, yellow-tinted, laser headlights sit on the outer edges of the car’s blade-like nose with the wheel arches themselves bulging beyond the line of the headlights themselves. The bare carbon fiber splitter at the front is generous in size and highlights some clever underbody aerodynamics going on – the air being trapped underneath thanks to rubber skirt add-ons similar to those found on ground effect F1 cars of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. In fact, the whole of the monocoque is made out of carbon fiber which is also used in the making of the wing, the rear diffuser, and other components.

2018 Holden Bathurst Time Attack Concept
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The bullet-like profile of the car is stunning to look at.

With huge wheels that feature incorporated fans, you’ll be forgiven if you think this car’s actually meant to fly off, not drive down the road. The huge air ducts on either side are completed by other inlets incorporated in the car’s side skirts. The entirety of the greenhouse is made out of glass which extends forwards to the tip of the bulkhead and rearwards over the engine – or where you’d expect the internal combustion engine to be in a hypercar. It actually widens at the back covering the whole rear section which actually is shaped like a V.

The rear end is actually a great big opening with the taillights hanging in the top corners. The huge trapezoidal diffuser and the active rear wing completes the outlandish aerodynamic package of the Bathurst Time Attack Concept.

2018 Holden Bathurst Time Attack Concept Interior Design

  • Carbon fiber cockpit
  • F1-style steering wheel
  • Only spacious enough for the driver
2018 Holden Bathurst Time Attack Concept
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With the amount of imagery we get of the exterior, the interior is a bit underexplored.

We get a view of the ultra-complicated Formula 1-inspired steering wheel, but that’s about it. We know that it seats only one person and that the seat itself features 6-point safety harness. We also know that, from the knobs on the wheel, you can control all the systems on the car via presets.

Knowing that you’d drive this car wearing a full-on race suit, Holden devised an avant-garde helmet for it which can project 3D graphics onto the visor to enable graphics overlay in real-time. Essential technical information is provided on the visor in addition to the racing line and braking zone benchmarks. There’s also a camera mast on the roof which films everything you do out on track.

2018 Holden Bathurst Time Attack Concept Drivetrain And Performance

  • Each of the four electric motors has its own gearbox
  • Total power output is 1,340-horsepower
  • It could lap the Mount Panorama circuit in 1:29.30, almost 20 seconds below Jenson Button’s unofficial record in an F1 McLaren
2018 Holden Bathurst Time Attack Concept
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The body of this concept is made or, to be more precise, would be made out of carbon fiber and Kevlar, same for the underbody which features flexible co-molded membranes at body and chassis junctions. The monocoque is mounted to the suspension uprights at all around, which enables full aerodynamic load to be applied directly to each wheel individually. The weight of it all, thanks to ultra-light materials, stays at below 2,000 pounds.

Power comes from four electric motors which jointly develop 1,340-horsepower and 2,390 pound-feet of torque.

Each of the four motors has its own 3-speed gearbox which means that it could, theoretically, launch itself from 0 to 62 mph in just 1.25 seconds. But its party piece is the four cyclo-gyro fans that are individually controllable and that accelerate airflow through the four venturi tunnels to enhance downforce at lower speeds through corners. Basically, depending on the corner, the air is directed in such a way to help keep the car “on rails”. This means that the center of pressure is always under control. The fans are powered by 4 Switch Reluctance Motors (SRM), each up to 50kW, that spin at 50,000 rpm.

The suspension is by carbon fiber double wishbones on all four corners with titanium uprights. The ride height is adjustable from the cockpit. The carbon fiber rims themselves are 18-inch in diameter and have active wheel fairings supported by a Kevlar/Elastane woven skin. This enables consistent performance whilst supporting full wheel steering and suspension movement. Lastly, the brakes will be warmed up electrically in the pits and feature KERS-like technology to recuperate energy on both axles.

Final Thoughts

2018 Holden Bathurst Time Attack Concept
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Everything sounds incredible, then, but the concept will, most likely, never go beyond the 3D-printed model phase. At least, we can look forward to a future with more interesting projects coming from GM Holden Australia since “Holden’s recent announcement of the expansion of 150 new engineers to our Advanced Vehicle Development team means we have the talent, resources and technology to continue delivering to that charter,” added Richard Ferlazzo.

  • Leave it
    • Just a computer simulation at the end of the day
    • Some of the technology displayed on the concept aren’t available right now
    • We’re unlikely to see at least a full-scale model of the Bathurst Time Attack monster

Further Reading

2017 HSV GTSR W1 Exterior High Resolution
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Read our full review on the 2017 HSV GTSR W1.

2019 HSV Commodore Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 712217

Read our speculative review on the 2019 HSV Commodore.

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Holden’s first win at Bathurst in 1968, GM Holden’s Design Team has explored the technological potential of the future through the stunning virtual ‘Time Attack Concept’ racer – conceived and executed entirely in-house at GM Holden.

Unlike the conventional format of the current endurance race cars, the Holden Time Attack Concept racer is envisioned as a single-lap tearaway, pitted against the clock. This type of racing is commonly known as Time Attack in motorsport circles.

The Holden Time Attack Concept racer was developed entirely virtually, using sophisticated simulation technology and driven by the world-class expertise within GM Holden’s Melbourne Design Studio.

GM Holden’s Design Director, Richard Ferlazzo explains: “The technology we employ today has transformed the way we design cars. We have the ability to simulate a car’s appearance, technology and dynamics in convincing animations, which enables us to deliver better designs in a shorter time. A large part of our work is Advanced Design and we use this technology to develop concept designs for our parent company, General Motors. This concept is a digital advertisement for the advanced skills, capability and technology of the GM Holden team”.

Holden has a long and storied history of creating crowd-pleasing concept vehicles dating back to the iconic Holden Hurricane concept of 1969, with traditional motor shows the typical platform for debuting them to Australia. As times have changed, so has Holden’s approach to developing concept vehicles.

“The cessation of Motor Shows in Australia left a hole in our automotive culture in some ways and we lost a forum to showcase our passion and creativity to the Australian public with physical concept cars. However, with the realism and detail achievable through modern technology, I felt we could still deliver uniquely Holden concepts via virtual technology and digital media,” said Ferlazzo.

Ferlazzo set a challenge for his talented design team to explore a futuristic race car using the latest emerging technologies around the world and was impressed with the proposal from Lead Designer, Ewan Kingsbury.

“Ewan perfectly captured the essence of what we wanted to achieve; an expressive, futuristic design which also displays innovative engineering solutions. Concepts are always meant to push the boundaries but are even more impactful when they are feasible and this concept is plausible as an advanced racer of the future,” said Ferlazzo.

The concept was developed with technical input from GM Holden’s Engineering team and the final design was validated with a digitally-printed 3D model. The finishing touch is a stunningly realistic video, created by GM Holden’s in-house Design Visualisation team, of the Time Attack Concept racer lapping the iconic Mount Panorama circuit. The video will debut on Saturday October 6 during the telecast of the Great Race, and will then be available for everyone to see.

“Automotive Design and Engineering remains a core strength and competitive advantage for Holden and for Australia. The Time Attack Concept racer is an illustration of how we can utilise cutting-edge technology to develop transportation solutions for the future. You can see from the extremely detailed approach to incorporating the advanced technology in our Time Attack Concept racer that this is more than just a visual exercise. Holden’s recent announcement of the expansion of 150 new engineers to our Advanced Vehicle Development team means we have the talent, resources and technology to continue delivering to that charter,” concluded Ferlazzo.

Technical Highlights

Weight:

900 kilograms (without driver)

Performance:

Simulated Mount Panorama Lap Time: 1:29.30

0-100km/h: 1.25 sec

Top Speed: 480km/h

Maximum Lateral G-Force: 6.5G

Maximum Braking G-Force: 6G

Powertrain:

Motors:

250kW Axial Flux Permanent Magnet Electric Motor Drives x 4 (Inboard mounted)

Total output – 1000kW (1Megawatt) / 1340HP

3240Nm Total Motor Torque

5000RPM Maximum Revolutions

Enables full programmable Torque Vectoring Traction Control at each corner

Gearboxes:

3-Speed Planetary Automatic Shift Gearboxes x 4

Ratios 1st 2.97:1, 2nd 1.7:1, 3rd 1:1

First gear ratio enables 9620Nm total axle torque at launch

Gearbox casing integrated into Chassis structure

Power Source:

Reconfigurable Graphene Hybrid Power Pack

1MW power output, 90MJ Usable Charge Capacity

Fast Recharge: Fully recharged in 90 seconds (1000kW, 800V, 1250A)

Motor Cooling:

Longitudinal Heat Exchangers x 2

Liquid-to-Gas Phase Change Cooling, low drag, full pass-through

Brakes:

Carbon/Carbon Hydraulic Discs x 4

Electrical Heating of pad and rotor in pits and on out-lap to conserve energy

Full Regenerative capability on all axles, can provide up to 2.0G braking force

Structure:

Chassis:

Carbon Fibre composite with cellulose Honeycomb Core

Full Integrated safety cell and crash structure, utilising stressed powertrain components

Suspension:

Carbon Fibre Double Wishbone all-round, aerodynamically engineered profiles

Titanium CNC’d Uprights with bushed underbody mounts

Pushrod / bellcrank activated Hydraulic Active Suspension Actuators. Computer controlled programmable ride height adjustment, anti-dive, anti-squat, anti-roll

Electric Power Steering

Body:

Carbon-Fibre/Kevlar Composite panels with Polycarbonate Graphene Coated Upper

Underbody:

Full Carbon Fibre / Kevlar Composite quad-venturi underbody, with flexible co-moulded membranes at Body and Chassis junctions

Underbody is structurally mounted to Suspension uprights at all 4 corners, enabling full aero load to be applied directly to each wheel

Torsional twist capability enables underbody to maintain consistent relationship to ground even with extreme road camber change

Wheels:

310/700 R18 Slick tires all round

Carbon Fibre Composite Rims

Active Wheel Fairings support low drag or brake cooling positions

Wheel Fairing supported by a Kevlar/Elastane woven skin enabling consistent low drag performance whilst supporting full wheel steering and suspension movement

Aerodynamics:

Low Frontal Area with all powertrain components on centre-line in Driver’s frontal area ‘shadow’

Full Active Downforce Generation via Ground Effects technology

Ultra-high Downforce levels achieved via electrically powered Cyclo-gyro fans

Rubber Skirts control air-bleed and enhance Ground Effect

4 Individually controllable Fans accelerate airflow through 4 venturi tunnels to enhance downforce at lower speeds

Fans enable programmable and constantly tuneable centre-of-pressure

Cyclo-gyro fans with actuated blades enabling variable thrust direction and force

Fans powered by 4 Switch Reluctance Motors (SRM), each up to 50kW, 50,000rpm, 92% efficient

Hydraulically actuated variable-position rear wing with air-braking capability

Lift-drag Ratio of underbody aero components in excess of 90:1

Miscellaneous:

Front Lighting:

Active Matrix Laser Units with yellow ‘Endurance’ Tint

Rear Lighting:

LED Matrix display – programmable pixels

Driver Assistance:

Augmented Reality Helmet: 3D graphics projected onto helmet visor to enable graphics overlay in real-time. Essential technical information provided in addition to racing line and braking zone benchmarks.

Integrated full steering wheel inputs to control all mechanical and aerodynamic systems via presets.

Six Point safety harness.

Telemetry and Camera mast to enable constant uplink and data transmission and in-car filming

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