New Aston goes ainst convention
Aston Martin Racing has taken a “novel” approach to the all-new challenger it hopes will conquer the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The AMR-One LMP 1 prototype, which will take on the turbodiesel Audis and Peugeots at Le Mans in June, incorporates “a number of interesting solutions”, according to AMR team principal George HowardChappell. He explained that the open-top design was “substantially different in some areas” to the current breed of prototypes.
“It is not a single-seater with mudguards; that is not its philosophy at all,” he explained. “We looked at that, but that is not what we’ve chosen. We believe our solution is quite novel.”
Howard-Chappell hinted that the car’s turbocharged straight-six engine could be integral to the aerodynamic solutions AMR has developed using computational fluid dynamics. He said that part of the reasoning behind the in-line configuration of the powerplant was that “it is narrow, which gives advantages if you are running a particular aero set-up”.
Asked to elaborate on that point, Howard-Chappell said: “That’s something for other people to work out.”
The AMR-One has been described as “conventional and logical in some respects and quite interesting in others”, by one leading designer. The technical director of Delta Motorsport, Nick Carpenter, who led the FIA-instigated study that resulted in the introduction of the Formula 1-style shark fin on new LMP cars for this year, drew attention to the air exits in the AMR-One’s bluff sidepods.
“They have pulled the splitter exit further back, so the air is exiting just forward of the rear wheels,” he explained. “That is going to generate an awful lot of front downforce.
“There is a possibility that there is more air coming all the way from the front, on through the engine bay and out the back, but it is impossible to tell from the photographs.”
AMR has opted for a 2-litre turbo unit rather than a 3.4-litre normally-aspirated V8 because, says HowardChappell, “it offers the best potential within the petrol regulations”. He insisted there were no packaging issues with a straight-six unit.
The AMR-One’s secrets are unlikely to start emerging until the car’s race debut, which was set back from the Sebring 12 Hours, the opening round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, in March. The team had always stressed that the participation at Sebring of a car that wasn’t given the green light until September was never a certainty.
The car will instead be given a debut in the Paul Ricard 6 Hours on April 4, the first round of the Le Mans Series in Europe. The team will have two cars ready for the Le Mans Test Day at the end of April and will field both in the second round of the ILMC at Spa on May 7.
AMR has entered one car in the full ILMC, though it will run two in selected rounds including Spa and the Silverstone 6 Hours in September. It also plans to contest a number of American Le Mans Series events in the second half of the year.
AMR announced at the launch of the AMR-One that 25-year-old Briton Andy Meyrick was joining the lineup alongside Darren Turner, Stefan Macke, Adrian Fernandez and Harold Primat. One seat remained unfilled at press time.
Ecurie Ecosse to race again
The famous Ecurie Ecosse team will return to sports car racing in the summer after an absence of nearly a quarter of a century.
The modern iteration of the team, which won the Le Mans 24 Hours twice in the 1950s with Jaguar, is to field an Aston Martin DBRS9 in the Spa 24 Hours at the end of July. It will be the first time that Ecosse has been involved in sports car racing since its successful Group C2 campaigns in the mid-1980s.
Team principal Hugh McCaig, who was responsible for relaunching Ecurie Ecosse in the 1980s, explained that he hoped to use this year’s programme as a springboard to a return to Le Mans.
“We’d like to do more races after Spa, which will give us a platform to work from for next year. Le Mans is synonymous with Ecurie Ecosse and that’s where we want to be.”
The Aston, to be run by the Barwell Motorsport squad, will be driven at Spa by Oliver Bryant, Joe Twynam, Andrew Smith and McCaig’s son Alasdair.