Posted by: drracing | June 13, 2014

General news and a new project – LMP2

Hi everybody! Once again too much time i didn’t write here.
It has been a pretty busy period, both personally and professionally, but I finally found some time to share some news and plans.

First of all, we are just living a very very exciting weekend, with the 2014 24h of Le Mans starting tomorrow at 3pm, that is probably going to be one of the most interesting of the last years, with now 3 manufacturers involved in LMP1, together with a totally new set of regulations (a lot of things have changed with much more emphasis on efficiency and on hybrid systems, smaller overall car width, smaller tires, etc) that are changing pretty significantly (and that’s easy to see from the onboard) how the cars have to be driven on track and how they have to be managed by the engineers. Toyota seem to be on top of the battle this year, but also Porsche is back at full steam and is already doing incredibly well. After the three qualifying sessions, Toyota took pole position with a perfect lap from Nakajima, but Porsche is close in second position.
Lap times are also quicker than last year and cars are so amazing to watch while running along the La Sarthe circuit! I am really looking forward to tomorrow race!

Beside LMP1, there is a full and very interesting LMP2 grid, with a lot of strong teams and drivers and a completely new car showing some incredible performances (see Ligier JS P2 by OAK Racing) claiming pole position. The car is really looking good and seems very well engineered.
LMP2 lap times are also unbelievably close together, with just 1 second between 1st and 7th position and the pole sitter only 65 milliseconds faster than the car sitting in second position!
So it is going to be a really interesting weekend!
This lead us to the main news I want to share: since January I am working with an LMP2 team on a vehicle model that they will use in the simulator they are building internally.
They are planning to start using rFactor (at least at the beginning) for this project and I got the task to recreate the physics of their car and to support them with the simulations.
The team is running a car in the ELMS championship and in Le Mans, with some very good drivers.
It is a really exciting project!

I am already pretty far with the vehicle modeling and very soon we will start testing the physics with the real drivers at the wheel. I am really curious to hear their comments. Matching between real and virtual vehicle is already very very good, so I am really looking forward to do more detailed comparison when the real drivers will drive the model.
Unfortunately, I will probably not be able to show some data logging comparison between real car and simulated counterpart as I did in my previous article, but never say never.
As expected, LMP2 cars are really amazing! Although being pretty heavy (around 1000kg with driver and fuel), they are producing outstanding performances and they clearly show on track the effects of the huge amount of downforce they produce.
I was really surprised by the numbers I saw. I expected them to be impressive, but some values went definitely far over my initial idea!
The car I am working on is an open top prototype, so I would be now very curious to compare the data I have with something regarding a coupe one, like the Ligier.
Beside the pure amount of downforce, it has also been really interesting to note how these cars aerodynamics is affected by ride height and rake.
Since I had to reproduce such a complex height and rake sensitivity, I can now say I have probably found some of the limitations connected to rFactor modeling approach. Not being free to use look up tables, for example, lock the user in using the built in equations by changing their coefficients to define how ride height and rake are influencing both overall downforce and balance ingame. Above all for the latter, it became immediately clear that a detailed representation of car real behavior was more or less impossible, although I could still catch the main trends and overall downforce level.
As I said, the comparison between real car and virtual model logged data is really promising.

On a less nice note about data, it is somehow also not a surprise to note how, also at such a high level in motorsport, there is sometimes lack of information about certain areas or how some of them are clearly inconsistent and nobody is really able to (or want to) clarify your doubts.
This is (as expected) true in particular for tires, which are probably the most complicated car components to measure and validate from a performance perspective: this is why, working on this project, I tried to refine some modeling procedures I already developed doing the Audi R18 to scale tire force properly; I also created a new and easy tool to build up a first and crude tire model also when poor or no data are available from the manufacturer. More about this in a separate article.
This tool has been very useful for this project too, since although I had access to some pretty detailed data from the manufacturer, some of them were clearly showing an inconsistent (and, in certain cases, physically unfeasible!) behavior.

Anyway, it was pretty surprising to note a certain lack of data also about other components or areas which are definitely much easier to measure or to evaluate. When working for race teams, I have always experienced a certain resistance from the manufacturers to supply data to customers on one side and from the team managers to allow the engineers to take the proper time and resources to measure and model the car on the other one, no matter how hard you try to explain to them how important and useful this could be.
But I was expecting to find something different here and I have to say that, in general, the team was able to supply a huge amount of very detailed data: they know the car very well and they are really approaching the problem professionally. It was funny to see how certain tendencies are still there, also if you are working at a much higher level than what you were used to.
I will try to prepare some articles about the modeling process of this vehicle and about some other topics connected to the tools I am recently using for my vehicle dynamics investigations.
Moving to another topic, I would like to spend here a few words about another great project I recently found and I joined with great excitement. I am talking about Perrin My Team.
If you don´t know what is it, please take a look to the following link:

 

http://www.perrinn.com/

 

Making a long story short, Nicolas Perrin is an Le Mans and F1 engineer who decided to open his own company and design an LMP1 vehicle to compete in Le Mans against the big guys (big manufacturers) within the new regulations. He started his project initially hoping to find some big company supporting his very ambitious initiative. Unfortunately, as all the ambitious projects, this is not that easy and till now no big supporter has shown himself/herself.
So what do you think Nicolas did? He created the first Motorsport Open Source project in the world, making available to everybody (to get access you just need to subscribe to his initiative paying 30 British Pounds) a huge amount of data, ranging from detailed CAD 3D models of the complete car, to 2D drawings, to CFD simulations results.
His intention is to involve people and to spread his ideas and goals as more as possible, in an hope to find an investor who could give the right push to this project. At the same time, he is somehow creating a unique link with the supporters, through regular emails where he also try to answer to their question as much as he can. Moreover, he is eventually claiming that he will consider supporter ideas concerning anything related to the project, from team management to design, etc.

I have submitted a couple of question and found more or less an answer to them in Nicolas regular emails.
He has also clearly expressed the intention to support the implementation of a virtual model of MyP1 (this is the name he gave to the car itself, for the time being) into a driving simulator. It could be interesting, at a certain point, to really implement a model of this car into rFactor or in another driving simulation software, to see how it performs and behave. Unfortunately, a big limit about it is the absence of real logged data to validate model behavior and performance. Some good inputs could come from the work I have done till now on both Audi R18 and the LMP2 car I mentioned here. Above all for anything regarding tires.

In the mean time, my goal (or should I say dream? Time is never a good friend, unfortunately) is to find some time to analyze in more details all the CAD data he has shared and maybe start to perform some basic test about suspension kinematics, for example. Let’s see if I will really manage to do it!

That’s all for now! Enjoy the 24h of Le Mans guys (and girls)! Hope to be able to post something new again soon!

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Responses

  1. Andrea, big congratulations!

    I am always amazed by your competence, passion and energy about vehicle simulations. You are truly unique, keep going!

    Ciao

  2. Giorgio,

    thanks a lot for your kind words.
    You are far too kind!

    I hope i will have some more time to update my Blog more regularly. There are so many things i would like to do and write about!


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