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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Random Stuff

Hi everyone.

This is pretty much as the title says.  I'll be all over the place in this post.  However, it will be my first post on auto racing later on.

But first of all, I did visit Columbus on Tuesday and went book shopping.  I'd like to visit the Book Loft sometime in the future.  I'd like to visit the place with a friend or two instead of going there alone.  Obviously, I'd like to be able to find volunteers on Facebook.

But on to auto racing.  This was the first really good thing that I saw happen during a NASCAR event this season.  This should show how much I've come to dislike NASCAR since it went from being a motorsport competition into a show.  An Owl managed to get a practice session stopped when it parked itself on the track and track workers had to try and corral it so it could be brought to animal control.  Now a video of the Great Horned Owl's escapades:

This week is also the debut of the new spec Formula 1 cars in Australia.  I caught the practice session on TV, and I like the new cars.  They look right being 2000mm wide and with the wider tires on them.  F1 cars should corner among the fastest cars on the planet, not being beaten to shreds by LMP1 Le Mans racing cars, as much as I like those.  And they are fast, which is the reason for the rules changes.  Consider that in 2015 that Audi, Porsche, and Toyota fielded LMP1 cars that could've qualified in the top 10 on a F1 grid at some tracks, that shows how "dumbed down" the F1 cars became because of narrow tires and narrow car width.  Now the cars, IMO, look and run right.

Next week will be the WEC Prologue at Monza.  This is the right setting, though with it being Monza, it's almost certain that Porsche and probably Toyota will bring their Le Mans body kits, so we'll have to wait until Silverstone in a couple of weeks to see what their sprint race kits will probably look like.  

This is due to the ACO, who organize the WEC and Le Mans, limiting LMP1 teams (like LMP2 teams for several years) to two main body kits, one for Le Mans, and one for the sprint races.  There's room for development, but not as much as last year or previous years.  
This is in the guise of cost cutting, which in motorsport is an oxymoron.  What the big teams supposedly will be saving, they'll just spend somewhere else.  And the smaller teams won't save any money at all, either.  Such measures just cost diminishing returns.  It narrows up the margins between the haves and have-nots, but that margin becomes increasingly hard to overcome.

Not to mention that the post 2013 rules sort of cost the ACO Audi Sport, who had been their biggest backer since 1999.  That was due to diminishing returns.  In nearly 20 years, Audi did direct injection gasoline engines to death over a decade ago with the R8, they did diesel engines to death since then, and then hybrids.  The ACO's technical regs were slowly but surely forcing Audi into running a gasoline engine with a battery pack hybrid, the latter being something that Audi adopted in 2016.  

Yes, Volkswagen Group's fiasco with diesel engine emissions cheating/fraud in North America had an impact, but it was mostly marketing (only when ACO tech regs were brought up did Audi even openly admit to running a diesel engine in their cars--they haven't directly advertised racing with diesel engines since 2011, focusing on advertising hybrid tech on their race cars).  However, IMO, that was a convenient cover story for Audi to take a break from the sport, which was IMO not a technical challenge for them, and facing having to adopt the gasoline hybrid tech that Porsche (also owned by Volkswagen Group; key word being redundant) have already been running.  I wouldn't expect Audi back until either Porsche leaves LMP1, or Audi Sport run some sort of hydrogen fuel cell/hydrogen hybrid car.  That probably won't happen until 2020, though.

One concern that I have for the WEC this year, aside from losing the advertising dollars and promotion that Audi and Audi Sport used to bring, is the speed of the LMP2 cars.  Reportedly, during a private test, one reached a top speed of nearly 220mph.  At Le Mans last year, the LMP1s were typically topping out at 200-205mph. This was because LMP1 cars are restricted by fuel flow.  LMP2s are limited by a sonic air restrictor.  This means that LMP1 cars have to "lift and coast" to conserve fuel, or face potential penalties.  Meanwhile, LMP2s can go full throttle all the way down a straightaway.

The main reason this is a concern is because LMP2 cars got a over 100bhp boost.  Which means that they make nearly the same top end power as the engines do on LMP1 cars.  LMP1s have the benefit of having nearly an extra 400+bhp from their hybrid systems, which, as well as being lighter (875kg vs 930kg) should give them an acceleration advantage.  But what happens when the hybrid power peters out and they have to lift and coast?  Hopefully there won't be issues, but Monza could be a preview of such confrontations.

BTW, I'm hoping for a Toyota victory at Le Mans and in the WEC.  Just like how Mercedes-Benz's dominance of F1 the past couple of years has gotten stale, I have the same opinion of Porsche, especially since they lucked into a lot of wins, especially last year.  Yeah, a win's a win, but when you win mostly based off of luck when Audi were dominating races (and Toyota dominated Le Mans), that's a bit stale in my book.  And with no Audi, my allegiances have shifted to Toyota.

For the memories, Audi's last WEC win:



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