Yeah, that’s where I’ve been this past week, down in Tampa visiting
relatives, Sebring, and Randy Wheelis. I’m afraid I tortured Wheelis
pretty badly, baking him in the sun, walking his a** off, then
freezing him to the point where I think he ended up wearing all the
clothes he had along on the trip.
but I do like some of this new
tech, like direct chamber injection , turbocharging tech,
and what about AUDI winning SEBRING with a DIESEL. now thats
Well, not really, although they’re certainly promoting it as such.
The rules for that particular racing class (LeMans Prototype 1, or
LMP1, or just P1) stipulate that all the air the engine breathes must
be drawn through a pair of particular size openings. This
fundamentally limits the HP to about 650, regardless of the size
engine used. For example the Audi R8 used a dual-turbo’ed V8 of
something like 4.5 litres, the Panoz used a much larger naturally-
aspirated pushrod V8, and some competitors go the other way with
fairly small engines, even 4-bangers, with gobs of turbo boost.
Apparently the limit remains at about 650 HP regardless of gasoline
vs. diesel, meaning that combusting the same amount of air with
either fuel releases about the same amount of energy. Of course, to
get the same HP with a diesel requires that the diesel engine be
larger than the gasoline engine had been. The Audi R10 has a dual-
turbo’ed V12 of 5.5 litre.
So, why did Audi go with diesel? Officially because the diesel
engine, while still limited to the same 650 HP as the gasoline engine
was, will provide them something like 840 ft-lb of torque. While
that’d appear to be a very good reason, remember that HP is what
makes a race car fast, and more torque with the same HP means less
rpm which means all you’re doing is changing drive ratios. I suspect
the real reason for the switch to diesel is to promote diesel, which
is already very popular in Europe but hasn’t caught on here in the US.
Compared to the V8 of the R8, the 120-degree V12 in the R10 is lower
and longer. This allowed the whole rear end of the car to appear
more compact, as though it had a smaller engine under there rather
than a larger one.
BTW, much was touted about the diesel fuel itself. The Audi
supposedly didn’t run on conventional diesel fuel but rather a new
blend that burns cleaner. Word is that it was actually 90% the
regular stuff mixed with 10% something else.
The Audis weren’t the only diesel cars entered. The entry list
included another P1 car with a diesel engine. It didn’t start the
race, though. I have no idea what the story was there.
Whatever, the Audi R10 is very fast indeed – just as the Audi R8
was, and in exactly the same fashion. If you’ve never seen these
racing Audis at work, you are missing something indeed. They are
blindingly fast while being totally silent. You can blame the
silence on the turbos, but one hastens to point out that there are
LOTS of turbos out there and all the others are quite noisy. The
Audis are completely silent, on throttle or off.
They also corner like nobody’s business. All the other cars look
like they’re racing, while the Audis seem like they’re out for a
pleasant afternoon drive. All the sounds you hear other cars making -
- the grinding sound of the brakes approaching the corner, the
scrubbing sounds of the tires digging in going through the corner,
the knocks and rattles as the wheels bounce over rough surfaces, the
whirr of the gears, all these sounds are completely absent in the
Audis. The car moves like a ghost around the track – a very, very
Only one Audi finished, and it led wire-to-wire. The other Audi R10
had mechanical troubles during practice the day before and the team
stayed up all night, with curtains around the work area for secrecy,
taking the engine out and doing something with it. It started the
race but quickly retired. Reported problem was overheating, but
there’s no assurance that they’d tell us the real reason.
BTW, the Porsche P2 prototypes made their debut at Sebring as well.
They didn’t do too well in the final standings, but they impressed
all who saw them. Totally unlike the Audis, they have sound and fury
to spare. They were only a click slower than the Audis despite being
in a slower class.
They had problems right off, though. Both had failures in the first
hour, electrical is what was reported, that put them in the pits for
a while. From then on it was a game of catch-up. One was so far
back that it was largely hopeless, and when it broke down later
(reportedly a broken halfshaft) it made little difference to the
standings. But the other worked its way back up into the running,
catching back up to the back end of the class leader with each yellow
flag and then passing him to unlap himself when the course went green
again. In this fashion, he eventually managed to regain the class
lead. With 20 minutes to go in the 12 hours, he suddenly failed and
pulled off the side of the road. The official explanation was
another broken halfshaft, but those who were standing on that corner
say that was hogwash, all the lights suddenly went out on the car as
it went past.
Other minor reports:
On Turn 10, the spectators can stand around the inside of the turn,
but there’s no spectator access to the outside. Outside the turn
there’s perhaps 50 yards of open grass for runoff, then a wall with
stacks of tires in front of it. There was a corner worker standing
on top of the wall. The guy tripped and fell headfirst into a stack
of tires, getting himself jammed with only his feet sticking out the
top – in plain view of a couple hundred spectators. They had to
stop the race in order to get help to him, since it wasn’t possible
to get there without crossing the track. In the resulting melee, an
ambulance came very close to colliding with the only Ferrari in the
race, as the Ferrari was circulating under a full course caution but
didn’t realize that the ambulance planned to drive straight off the
corner rather than following the pavement around the corner.
Some guy driving a P2 car was going around the long sweeper leading
to the hairpin when his engine broke. He coasted off the inside of
the curve and came to a stop in a nice, safe location up against the
guard rail – just ten feet or so from where all the spectators were
partying on the other side of the fence. He was sitting there
dejected when some party animal tossed him a beer over the fence.
Whatta they gonna do, disqualify him for drinking? He ended up
sitting there in his car for HOURS, guzzling beer after beer and
watching the race grind on. He ended up with a neat circle of beer
cans surrounding his dead car, most empty but some full due to the
poor aim of the tossers. When the race ended, the wrecker came out
and towed him around the track to the pits, with him waving joyously
to the crowd.
The GT2 class is normally ruled by Porsches, which is why my choice
to win is always “anyone but Porsche”. Their competition over the
past few years has included the Panoz Esperante (front-engine RWD
V8), something called a Stryker, and a couple of models of Ferrari.
The Strykers are always slow, although this year they proved stout
and ran consistently start to finish. One Panoz and a Ferrari were
giving it go, though, and ended up swapping the class lead back and
forth between them for hours, relegating the endless succession of
Porsches to no better than third. The Ferrari seemed to have the
edge by a hair. Every now and then, both the Panoz and the Ferrari
would pit together, allowing a Porsche to lead for a few laps, then
it would pit and we’d be off to the races with the Panoz and Ferrari
again. The Panoz conveniently lost his rear bumper somewhere halfway
through the race, probably giving him a weight benefit. Anyhow,
somebody screwed up with less than an hour to go, and the Ferrari
ended up back in 3rd with no chance of improving that position. The
Panoz went on to win the class, some Porsche second, the Ferrari
The GT1 class had two Corvettes, two Aston Martins, and two Saleens
entered. All six cars finished. One Corvette had some problem,
reportedly a transmission, that put him in the pits for a while, so
he ended up out of contention. The other Corvette won the class.
One Aston Martin (car number 007!) lost its hood at speed, making one
of the more dramatic video clips from the race. They got a new hood
on it, though, and got it back in the race quickly enough for it to
finish in 3rd place. The other Aston Martin (009) finished second.
The Saleens were last. To talk about the speed of these cars: the
Aston Martins are beautiful and they sound beautiful, but when all is
said and done they are consistently about a second a lap slower than
the Corvettes. The Saleens simply are not competitive, something I
don’t understand since on paper they certainly LOOK like they should
whup a**. It seems as though their 7-liter Ford aluminum block
engines don’t have the pop that the Corvette’s 7-liter aluminum block
engines have. One guy suggested that Mr. Saleen mainly has
experience with super- and turbocharging Mustangs (and Saleens, for
that matter) and lacks expertise with naturally aspirated engines.
Still, you’d think with the money being spent to field a couple of
cars year after year they’d find some way to get that car competitive.
Oh, well, enough.
Visit the Jag Lovers homepage at http://www.jag-lovers.org for exciting services and resources including Photo Albums, Event Diary / Calendar, On Line Books and more !