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#1 chr1s

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Posted 18 June 2024 - 19:26

I've only ever had a passing interest in sports car racing, although I have been to Le Mans a few times and usually follow the race on TV.  Something I often wonder about is when I first went, in late 80s and early 90s the Prototype cars all seemed to be closed coupes, then when I went again in the late 90s, early 2000s  they were all "spyders". Then in the last few years, coupes again. Is this due to rule changes over the years or just fashion? 



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#2 Doug Nye

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Posted 18 June 2024 - 20:45

Regulations and what offers the fastest option year by year...

 

DCN



#3 FlyingSaucer

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Posted 18 June 2024 - 21:28

As Mr. Nye said, it all depends of the time, context and situation.

For example, the transformation at the end of the 90s was due to a few factors: first, the dominance of closed-cockpit cars of the Group GT1, which began to surpass LMPs that, for the most part, had an open cockpit (in particular, the Courage, the SP333 and the R&S MKIII). Furthermore, cars that used aerodynamic refinements to the extreme, such as the Toyota GT-One (which was originally a GT1 and ended up being homologated as LMGTP in 1999) and the Bentley Speed ​​8 largely defined the basic lines of post-2000 prototypes.

The notable exeptions to this case were obviously the Audi R8 LMP's, which were one of the finest pieces of machinery ever produced, and which managed to suppress closed cockpit cars for a decent amount of years in the early 2000s (at least in LM).

Edited by FlyingSaucer, 18 June 2024 - 21:37.


#4 Alan Lewis

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Posted 18 June 2024 - 21:33

In 1999 (if I remember right), Audi built one of each.

#5 Henri Greuter

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 07:01

In 1999 (if I remember right), Audi built one of each.

 

Correct in that they built a closed Coupe and an open top spyder but they built more than one example of each. (2). 

As for the 1999 spyder, that was the only Audi R8 Spyder that had a rollhoop over the entire width of the cockpit opening. From 2000 on they followed the 1999 BMW option with an asymmetric single Rollbar for the driver only

 

But the 1999 closed Coupe seemed to be a bit halfhearted attempt (too less time to sort it out properly I believe) and was not much of a success.

Persistent rumors say that it was then picked up by Bentley to make somethin out of it but there are a number of fellow forum members over here who can tell from personal experience that this is definitely not true.


Edited by Henri Greuter, 19 June 2024 - 07:01.


#6 small block

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 11:17

Paging Peter Elleray...

#7 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 12:24

Having been involved in its development from pretty early on, I do know first hand that the Porsche RS Spyder was designed as an, er, spyder for reasons of speed and ease of driver changes.

#8 Henri Greuter

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 12:29

Having been involved in its development from pretty early on, I do know first hand that the Porsche RS Spyder was designed as an, er, spyder for reasons of speed and ease of driver changes.

 

 

I have heard on a number of occasions tht this was also the main reason as of why Audi remained racing with opentop cars as well as long as rules permitted it.

 

Nigel, in the case of the Porsche RS Spyder, I know that this wasn't an LMP1 but an LMP2 category, was weight perhaps another reason? A closed monocoque being almost by definitition more heavy than a Spyder "bath tub"


Edited by Henri Greuter, 19 June 2024 - 12:30.


#9 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 12:43

Hi Henri
As with most modern cars, we ran a fair amount of ballast on the RS Spyder, moving it around according to the (im)balance the drivers were experiencing. So, yes, the ability to be under the weight limit and then fit ballast as required was important.

The RS Spyder was basically designed for the ALMS. Porsche had conducted a study of various series and concluded that LMP2 in the ALMS was the place to be. This car was designed by the same group that had designed the never-raced LMP2000 and then the Carrera GT road car. It was never designed with the LM24 in mind, and Porsche weren’t very keen on us (the works team) or any of their customers doing it (though a couple were run at Le Mans by customers anyway). Roger actually sent the Penske Porsche team manager and me to the 2007 LM24 on a recce, but nothing came of it.

Edited by Nigel Beresford, 19 June 2024 - 12:54.


#10 john winfield

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 13:19

The OP reminded me of the Ferrari 512 in 1970. Does anyone know why some were built as spyders, or whether the models raced at Brands really were spyders or just had removable roof panels? When is a Spyder not a Spyder?
Meanwhile, Ickx and Amon sitting on the grid, rain pouring into the cockpit, looking across at Vic's 917, wondering whether they had the ideal 'clothing' for the inclement weather.

Edited by john winfield, 19 June 2024 - 13:20.


#11 Henri Greuter

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 13:21

Hi Henri
As with most modern cars, we ran a fair amount of ballast on the RS Spyder, moving it around according to the (im)balance the drivers were experiencing. So, yes, the ability to be under the weight limit and then fit ballast as required was important.

The RS Spyder was basically designed for the ALMS. Porsche had conducted a study of various series and concluded that LMP2 in the ALMS was the place to be. This car was designed by the same group that had designed the never-raced LMP2000 and then the Carrera GT road car. It was never designed with the LM24 in mind, and Porsche weren’t very keen on us (the works team) or any of their customers doing it (though a couple were run at Le Mans by customers anyway). Roger actually sent the Penske Porsche team manager and me to the 2007 LM24 on a recce, but nothing came of it.

 

 

Thnx Nigel!

 

That RS Spyder was a giant killer for sure, as I recall it actually did beat Audis on some occasions.

As for Le Mans, I wonder if the Le Mans authorities (ACO) would have appreciated the category LMP2 which was intended for primarily privateer teams being entered by a fully fledged factory team. There had been some cases before (MG in 2003 comes to mind) but Porsche was the kind of factory which was expected to go for overall victories and not for class categories in the secondary prototypoe category. Not impossible that a Porsche factory supported entry would have been turned down for whatever reason ACO could come up with.



#12 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 13:30

Not going to lie - beating the Audi LMP1s with the LMP2 was great fun. And they HATED it. McNish would complain to IMSA and we’d have to pull the fuel system apart for a capacity check every time we beat them.

Regarding the ACO, you make a good point and could well have been the case. Le Mans and sports car racing was always RP’s real passion - I always characterise it as NASCAR is business, Indycar (excluding the “500”) is pleasure and sports cars & the Indy 500 were passion for Roger. As I have said before, he would get as wound up for some ALMS race at Lime Rock as he would for the Indy 500. It’s no secret that the LM24 is the one thing that has eluded him so far, and it’s a shame they were not able to get the 20th win last week for Porsche in the same year as getting Penske’s 20th Indy 500. That would have have been a lovely piece of symmetry. In truth though, even an RS Spyder campaign at LM would have been unsatisfactory because RP wanted a tilt at an outright win. That is why, even though we did the recce, we never actually went with the cars.

Edited by Nigel Beresford, 19 June 2024 - 13:36.


#13 petere

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 15:57

Paging Peter Elleray...

i had stopped posting on here for various reasons, but since this has popped up in my inbox...

 

It's very widely recorded that both the R8C and the subsequent Bentley's were all designed and built at the same facility, rtn in Norfolk. As I was the chief designer there throughout that time then it should be obvious that I was well aware of the R8C's shorthcomings, and the reasons for them, when we started work on what was initially a VW research project using their w12 engine, which then became the Bentley (s), using the v8 turbo. The two cars, and later the third , mk.2 Bentley in 2003, are all different cars, sharing virtually no components, and all being built to different, ongoing and developed, concepts of what a closed cockpit LeMans  prototype should be to get the job done. In other words, ongoing design and development in the normal motor racing manner.

 

It is simply wrong to say that  "Persistent rumors say that it was then picked up by Bentley to make somethin out of it ". Bentley, the car company, had no role to play in the design of the VW research car - they were not even on the scene at the time. Neither did Audi in Ingolstadt. Bentley the road car company  effectively took that project under their wing after the first car was built - using a DFR - and whilst they were instrumental in providing the ongoing finance , commissioning Herr Baretsky to produce their own version of the v8 turbo engine and then the support that was needed to continue the programme through to success at LeMans in 2003 from the board of VAG, (for which most of the credit should be given to their technical director Brian Gush) , the technical side continued to be devolved and run from rtn in Norfolk.

 

A great number of those involved at rtn would probably regard the 2003 win as a career highlight, and i can assure you that the whole workforce put in a massive effort to achieve it. And so, whilst I appreciate that Henri was good enough to add "there are a number of fellow forum members over here who can tell from personal experience that this is definitely not true." in his original post, I have to say that it is pretty depressing , after all this time, not to be able to take a leisurely surf through the net on sites that focus on my own racing interests (one of which, naturally being LeMans) without coming accross the same ill informed, snide comments about 'the green audi'. 



#14 Henri Greuter

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 18:16

i had stopped posting on here for various reasons, but since this has popped up in my inbox...

 

It's very widely recorded that both the R8C and the subsequent Bentley's were all designed and built at the same facility, rtn in Norfolk. As I was the chief designer there throughout that time then it should be obvious that I was well aware of the R8C's shorthcomings, and the reasons for them, when we started work on what was initially a VW research project using their w12 engine, which then became the Bentley (s), using the v8 turbo. The two cars, and later the third , mk.2 Bentley in 2003, are all different cars, sharing virtually no components, and all being built to different, ongoing and developed, concepts of what a closed cockpit LeMans  prototype should be to get the job done. In other words, ongoing design and development in the normal motor racing manner.

 

It is simply wrong to say that  "Persistent rumors say that it was then picked up by Bentley to make somethin out of it ". Bentley, the car company, had no role to play in the design of the VW research car - they were not even on the scene at the time. Neither did Audi in Ingolstadt. Bentley the road car company  effectively took that project under their wing after the first car was built - using a DFR - and whilst they were instrumental in providing the ongoing finance , commissioning Herr Baretsky to produce their own version of the v8 turbo engine and then the support that was needed to continue the programme through to success at LeMans in 2003 from the board of VAG, (for which most of the credit should be given to their technical director Brian Gush) , the technical side continued to be devolved and run from rtn in Norfolk.

 

A great number of those involved at rtn would probably regard the 2003 win as a career highlight, and i can assure you that the whole workforce put in a massive effort to achieve it. And so, whilst I appreciate that Henri was good enough to add "there are a number of fellow forum members over here who can tell from personal experience that this is definitely not true." in his original post, I have to say that it is pretty depressing , after all this time, not to be able to take a leisurely surf through the net on sites that focus on my own racing interests (one of which, naturally being LeMans) without coming accross the same ill informed, snide comments about 'the green audi'. 

Peter,

 

My apologies if my post offended you

 

I feared that any mentioning of the 99 R8C's would lead to comments about them being turned into Bentleys, hence why I made it myself but instantly added the comment that members of this club had already told often enough this not being the case at all. Thus trying to take the wind out of the sails of such posters and preventing comments like this to be made.

 

I know how this manner of thinking still pops up all the time and how at fault that it.

 

If my manner was wrong for you, my sincere apologies. I hope the explanation above makes clear what went through my mind and what my intentions were.

Sorry, sorry, sorry.

 

 

BTW, I recently saw footage of the prototype with DFR engine being driven. Such a weird sight., as if watching a movie with a wrong sounddtrack or the exact opposite.


Edited by Henri Greuter, 19 June 2024 - 18:17.


#15 Emery0323

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 18:28

The OP reminded me of the Ferrari 512 in 1970. Does anyone know why some were built as spyders, or whether the models raced at Brands really were spyders or just had removable roof panels? When is a Spyder not a Spyder?
Meanwhile, Ickx and Amon sitting on the grid, rain pouring into the cockpit, looking across at Vic's 917, wondering whether they had the ideal 'clothing' for the inclement weather.

Actually, the roof could be removed on the 512S. The roof and the tail section (also removable) needed to be matched so that the right aerodynamic characteristics were achieved. 

There were three different tail sections, a long and short tail with a solid, enclosed rear window, and a short tail section with an open rear window so that air could flow through unobstructed.

 

For high-speed tracks, the roof was installed and the tail sections, either short or Long (at LeMans), with the solid rear window was installed. In 1970, you saw that at Daytona, LeMans, Monza (#1, #2), Spa, etc.

On short, twisty, lower-speed tracks, the roof was removed and the short tail without the rear window was installed (in 1970, Targa Florio, Nurburgring, Brands Hatch, Watkins Glen, Monza (#3) etc.)

In 1970, the factory Ferrari 512S entries at Sebring and Monza had a mix of spyders and coupes, as I recall.

 

A few years back,Ferrari 512S #1004 came up for auction at Girardo & Co.

https://girardo.com/...ferrari-512-s/ 

In display photos, it had the roof removed, spyder-style, but it had the short tail section with the solid rear window!

They would  never have raced it with that combination of body panels, the enclosed rear window would have acted as a big air-brake with the open roof!  :lol:

The same car, #1004, raced at Monza and Daytona as a coupe in 1970.

 

American Vintage Racing fans will recognize #1004 as John Giordano's old car, which made regular appearances at vintage events at Lime Rock, Monterey, etc. in the 1990's - 2000's.

 

Edit: According to online sources, Giordano's 512S (shown as #1004 at vintage events) was actually #1046, these chassis histories are confusing tales of switched identities. :rolleyes: Delving deeper, it's not entirely clear whether the 512S roof removal/installation was a trivial installation or more involved surgery, but nevertheless it was certainly possible to convert a 512S Coupe to a Spyder and vice-versa, there are several examples.


Edited by Emery0323, 20 June 2024 - 04:49.


#16 petere

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 19:10

Peter,

 

My apologies if my post offended you

 

I feared that any mentioning of the 99 R8C's would lead to comments about them being turned into Bentleys, hence why I made it myself but instantly added the comment that members of this club had already told often enough this not being the case at all. Thus trying to take the wind out of the sails of such posters and preventing comments like this to be made.

 

I know how this manner of thinking still pops up all the time and how at fault that it.

 

If my manner was wrong for you, my sincere apologies. I hope the explanation above makes clear what went through my mind and what my intentions were.

Sorry, sorry, sorry.

 

 

BTW, I recently saw footage of the prototype with DFR engine being driven. Such a weird sight., as if watching a movie with a wrong sounddtrack or the exact opposite.

Thanks, i was not offended, but it is frustrating to read the same stuff over and over again, a quarter of a century later., By repeating the story - even if you then follow that up by saying that you think it's wrong - it just reopens the debate for the umpteenth time, when there is no debate to be had !  Bentley have put it on records several times exactly what the provenance and lineage of their cars was. There isn't any more to it than that. 



#17 Henri Greuter

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 20:04

i had stopped posting on here for various reasons, but since this has popped up in my inbox...

 

It's very widely recorded that both the R8C and the subsequent Bentley's were all designed and built at the same facility, rtn in Norfolk. As I was the chief designer there throughout that time then it should be obvious that I was well aware of the R8C's shorthcomings, and the reasons for them, when we started work on what was initially a VW research project using their w12 engine, which then became the Bentley (s), using the v8 turbo. The two cars, and later the third , mk.2 Bentley in 2003, are all different cars, sharing virtually no components, and all being built to different, ongoing and developed, concepts of what a closed cockpit LeMans  prototype should be to get the job done. In other words, ongoing design and development in the normal motor racing manner.

 

It is simply wrong to say that  "Persistent rumors say that it was then picked up by Bentley to make somethin out of it ". Bentley, the car company, had no role to play in the design of the VW research car - they were not even on the scene at the time. Neither did Audi in Ingolstadt. Bentley the road car company  effectively took that project under their wing after the first car was built - using a DFR - and whilst they were instrumental in providing the ongoing finance , commissioning Herr Baretsky to produce their own version of the v8 turbo engine and then the support that was needed to continue the programme through to success at LeMans in 2003 from the board of VAG, (for which most of the credit should be given to their technical director Brian Gush) , the technical side continued to be devolved and run from rtn in Norfolk.

 

A great number of those involved at rtn would probably regard the 2003 win as a career highlight, and i can assure you that the whole workforce put in a massive effort to achieve it. And so, whilst I appreciate that Henri was good enough to add "there are a number of fellow forum members over here who can tell from personal experience that this is definitely not true." in his original post, I have to say that it is pretty depressing , after all this time, not to be able to take a leisurely surf through the net on sites that focus on my own racing interests (one of which, naturally being LeMans) without coming accross the same ill informed, snide comments about 'the green audi'. 

 

 

Peter,

 

You mentioned the initial use of the VW W12 for engine in the project, remembering the logistic nightmare of the Life W12 in that car, I kind of wonder how that engine could be integrated within the Bentley prototype.

Is there anything you can/want to share on that part of the project?

 

Thanks in advance is possible, I understand it entirely if you can/t/won't go into that.



#18 john winfield

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 20:32

Actually, the roof could be removed on the 512S. The roof and the tail section (also removable) needed to be matched so that the right aerodynamic characteristics were achieved.
There were three different tail sections, a long and short tail with a solid, enclosed rear window, and a short tail section with an open rear window so that air could flow through unobstructed.

For high-speed tracks, the roof was installed and the tail sections, either short or Long (at LeMans), with the solid rear window was installed. In 1970, you saw that at Daytona, LeMans, Monza (#1, #2), Spa, etc.
On short, twisty, lower-speed tracks, the roof was removed and the short tail without the rear window was installed (in 1970, Targa Florio, Nurburgring, Brands Hatch, Watkins Glen, Monza (#3) etc.)
In 1970, the factory Ferrari 512S entries at Sebring and Monza had a mix of spyders and coupes, as I recall.

A few years back,Ferrari 512S #1004 came up for auction at Girardo & Co.
https://girardo.com/...ferrari-512-s/
In display photos, it had the roof removed, spyder-style, but it had the short tail section with the solid rear window!
They would never have raced it with that combination of body panels, enclosed rear window would have acted as a big air-brake with the open roof! :lol:
The same car, #1004, raced at Monza and Daytona as a coupe in 1970.

American Vintage Racing fans will recognize #1004 as John Giordano's old car, which made regular appearances at vintage events at Lime Rock, Monterey, etc. in the 1990's - 2000's.


Emery, that's such a helpful, thorough reply. Thank you very much!

#19 petere

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Posted 19 June 2024 - 20:44

Peter,

 

You mentioned the initial use of the VW W12 for engine in the project, remembering the logistic nightmare of the Life W12 in that car, I kind of wonder how that engine could be integrated within the Bentley prototype.

Is there anything you can/want to share on that part of the project?

 

Thanks in advance is possible, I understand it entirely if you can/t/won't go into that.

That is something I can talk about, yes ! 

 

The problems were less severe as the engine was similar is layout to the VR6 road car engine, doubled up. I believe Herr Baretsky was of the opinion that it required two crankshafts to work properly, i hope i am not misrepresenting his thoughts. 

 

Suffice to say we never received a working engine to put in the car, hence the use of the DFR to test the chassis. The w12 did however test briefly in a Lola that VW owned.

 

From our perspective as chassis designers the engine was rather large and bulky. The test car that we produced therefore had a larger engine cover than we would have liked. We were able to reuce the cross section of this considerably on the 'Bentley's' that followed by retooling, and the width of the rear of the monocque 'cab' by filling the chassis tooling with epoxy and reshaping by hand (!). 

 

When the mk2 cars were designed for 2003 and the w12 was a distant memory we were then able to do the job properly and produce a very tightly packaged engine bay and much smaller engine cover.

 

It's difficult to say how competitive the engine would have been had it ever reached maturity. I doubt if it would have outgunned the v8 turbo, which was a superb engine for that era of prototype racing. 

 

The racing w12 was not related to the road car w12, although it's superficial similarity to a potential road car customer, probably non technical , was clearly attractive and would have suited Bentlety's marketing stratergy for the then about to be announced 'medium sized bentley' perfectly. But they got their sixth leMans with the v8 anyway, and have made good use of it ever since !



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#20 SamoanAttorney

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 06:55

Thnx Nigel!

 

That RS Spyder was a giant killer for sure, as I recall it actually did beat Audis on some occasions.

As for Le Mans, I wonder if the Le Mans authorities (ACO) would have appreciated the category LMP2 which was intended for primarily privateer teams being entered by a fully fledged factory team. There had been some cases before (MG in 2003 comes to mind) but Porsche was the kind of factory which was expected to go for overall victories and not for class categories in the secondary prototypoe category. Not impossible that a Porsche factory supported entry would have been turned down for whatever reason ACO could come up with.

The ACO anticipated a potential werks entry in 2008 and changed the rules, as I have written elsewhere - 

 

While the technical regulations for LM GT1 and LM GT2 remained unaltered there were several changes in the prototypes in an attempt to create a clear distinction between the two classes, a line that had been blurred by the race-winning performances of the Porsche RS Spyders in the ALMS. The minimum weight for the LM P1 cars was reduced by 25kg to 900kg, while 50kg was added to LM P2 bring them up to 825kg and the junior class fuel tank capacity was reduced from 90 to 80 litres. 



#21 Henri Greuter

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 07:12

The ACO anticipated a potential werks entry in 2008 and changed the rules, as I have written elsewhere - 

 

While the technical regulations for LM GT1 and LM GT2 remained unaltered there were several changes in the prototypes in an attempt to create a clear distinction between the two classes, a line that had been blurred by the race-winning performances of the Porsche RS Spyders in the ALMS. The minimum weight for the LM P1 cars was reduced by 25kg to 900kg, while 50kg was added to LM P2 bring them up to 825kg and the junior class fuel tank capacity was reduced from 90 to 80 litres. 

 

 

 

OK!

Well this is definitely new to me, or at the very best, I did not remember anything about all of this anymore.

Did you write all this as a post here on this forum or anywhere else?

 

Anyway, thanks!



#22 Henri Greuter

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 07:19

That is something I can talk about, yes ! 

 

The problems were less severe as the engine was similar is layout to the VR6 road car engine, doubled up. I believe Herr Baretsky was of the opinion that it required two crankshafts to work properly, i hope i am not misrepresenting his thoughts. 

 

Suffice to say we never received a working engine to put in the car, hence the use of the DFR to test the chassis. The w12 did however test briefly in a Lola that VW owned.

 

From our perspective as chassis designers the engine was rather large and bulky. The test car that we produced therefore had a larger engine cover than we would have liked. We were able to reuce the cross section of this considerably on the 'Bentley's' that followed by retooling, and the width of the rear of the monocque 'cab' by filling the chassis tooling with epoxy and reshaping by hand (!). 

 

When the mk2 cars were designed for 2003 and the w12 was a distant memory we were then able to do the job properly and produce a very tightly packaged engine bay and much smaller engine cover.

 

It's difficult to say how competitive the engine would have been had it ever reached maturity. I doubt if it would have outgunned the v8 turbo, which was a superb engine for that era of prototype racing. 

 

The racing w12 was not related to the road car w12, although it's superficial similarity to a potential road car customer, probably non technical , was clearly attractive and would have suited Bentlety's marketing stratergy for the then about to be announced 'medium sized bentley' perfectly. But they got their sixth leMans with the v8 anyway, and have made good use of it ever since !

 

 

 

This is most interesting to read!

Apart from aero complications, did the lay out of the W engine not cause head aches with how to direct the gas flows to and out of the engine under the bonnet? From what I remember to have read about the general problems with W ennges is that there is one row between two banks of cylinders which has itsintake and exhaust side entirely opposite to the other two banks and this causing all kind of logistic nightmares for air inflow and exhaust release flow to and from the engine.


Edited by Henri Greuter, 20 June 2024 - 07:19.


#23 SamoanAttorney

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 07:32

OK!

Well this is definitely new to me, or at the very best, I did not remember anything about all of this anymore.

Did you write all this as a post here on this forum or anywhere else?

 

Anyway, thanks!

Henri

 

it is from a project that is nearing completion, more when I am in a position to discuss.



#24 Henri Greuter

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 08:05

Henri

 

it is from a project that is nearing completion, more when I am in a position to discuss.

 

Thnx for the update, hope you'll inform us on the project eventually!



#25 petere

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 09:57

This is most interesting to read!

Apart from aero complications, did the lay out of the W engine not cause head aches with how to direct the gas flows to and out of the engine under the bonnet? From what I remember to have read about the general problems with W ennges is that there is one row between two banks of cylinders which has itsintake and exhaust side entirely opposite to the other two banks and this causing all kind of logistic nightmares for air inflow and exhaust release flow to and from the engine.

As i said, it was effectively two banks of the VR6 engine, on a common crank, 90 degree 'v' angle', so one set of intakes and one set of exhausts for each bank, like a v12. Quite a good idea, have a look at a road going vr6 and you'll see what i mean. 

 

Where it all went wrong was on the first version offered up, and the one that ran in the Lola, which had the intakes in line with the cylinder axis, so vertical ports on an in line engine, but in a vee they came out at a 45 degree angle in cross section and stuck right through the engine cover by about 250mm on either side! When it was pointed out that this was unacceptable from an aerodynamic point of view we had the classic 'engine designer' vs 'car designer' standoff, which i assume we won because we never saw the engine again! On the Lola those intakes were in the shadow of the vertical section of the full width roll hoop fairing that those cars used then, so no one had foreseen the problem when they offered it up to a coupe.

 

The vr6 designer also wanted the engine mounted on rubber, in its own spaceframe.... he was going to design the spaceframe...  Fortunately there were more switched on racing people at a higher level in the programme and the engine was 'withdrawn', as was it's designer.....

 

We had similar nonsense on the body side, when VW commisioned one of their stylists to 'style' the body (after we had already made it). I was asked to attend it's 'unveiling' in Berlin, which I did, and it really was 'unveiled' in the form of a 33% clay model that was underneath a large cover which our 'stylist' wisked away with a flourish and a 'There.. what do you think of that !..'. There followed an awkward silence broken by myself "You are aware that there are regulations for these sort of race cars that are very specific about dimensions for width, height, screen size, overhangs etc?". Another longer silence followed before the reply "Oh I don't think we need to let things like that concern us...", accompanied by a dismissive wave of the hand...

 

Needless to say that was the last we ever heard of that little exercise, and any further attempts to 'improve' the look of the cars form road car stylists at either VW or later from Bentley were fought off successfully. The cars were 'styled' in the Wind Tunnel, as they ought to have been.

 

When I look back on it after a quarter of a century I am perhaps surprised that we ever got to the point of producing a car' let alone a pretty good one, there were so many obstacles placed in the way.



#26 Henri Greuter

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 10:26

As i said, it was effectively two banks of the VR6 engine, on a common crank, 90 degree 'v' angle', so one set of intakes and one set of exhausts for each bank, like a v12. Quite a good idea, have a look at a road going vr6 and you'll see what i mean.

Where it all went wrong was on the first version offered up, and the one that ran in the Lola, which had the intakes in line with the cylinder axis, so vertical ports on an in line engine, but in a vee they came out at a 45 degree angle in cross section and stuck right through the engine cover by about 250mm on either side! When it was pointed out that this was unacceptable from an aerodynamic point of view we had the classic 'engine designer' vs 'car designer' standoff, which i assume we won because we never saw the engine again! On the Lola those intakes were in the shadow of the vertical section of the full width roll hoop fairing that those cars used then, so no one had foreseen the problem when they offered it up to a coupe.

The vr6 designer also wanted the engine mounted on rubber, in its own spaceframe.... he was going to design the spaceframe... Fortunately there were more switched on racing people at a higher level in the programme and the engine was 'withdrawn', as was it's designer.....

We had similar nonsense on the body side, when VW commisioned one of their stylists to 'style' the body (after we had already made it). I was asked to attend it's 'unveiling' in Berlin, which I did, and it really was 'unveiled' in the form of a 33% clay model that was underneath a large cover which our 'stylist' wisked away with a flourish and a 'There.. what do you think of that !..'. There followed an awkward silence broken by myself "You are aware that there are regulations for these sort of race cars that are very specific about dimensions for width, height, screen size, overhangs etc?". Another longer silence followed before the reply "Oh I don't think we need to let things like that concern us...", accompanied by a dismissive wave of the hand...

Needless to say that was the last we ever heard of that little exercise, and any further attempts to 'improve' the look of the cars form road car stylists at either VW or later from Bentley were fought off successfully. The cars were 'styled' in the Wind Tunnel, as they ought to have been.

When I look back on it after a quarter of a century I am perhaps surprised that we ever got to the point of producing a car' let alone a pretty good one, there were so many obstacles placed in the way.



Most look into the VR6 ;ay-out again to solve the misunderstanding.
Other then that: This is golden info, I love reading things like this! And I'm sure I'm not alone. Thanks for sharing!!!!!

#27 Tim Murray

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 10:49

This is golden info, I love reading things like this! And I'm sure I’m not alone. Thanks for sharing!!!!!


Hear hear. This is fascinating stuff. Thank you Peter.

#28 SamoanAttorney

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 10:57

Thnx for the update, hope you'll inform us on the project eventually!

 

Henri, of course I will keep you, and all the other amazing contributors in this fount of knowledge and wisdom, up to date. I just hope that it will not disappoint.



#29 petere

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 11:39

Hear hear. This is fascinating stuff. Thank you Peter.

'fascinating' is not the word i would have used (and probably did use) to describe these events back in 1998/9/2000.... It got a lot better when Brian Gush of Bentley was given overall responsibility. He recognised that designing a LeMans car was a speciality and once we had gained his trust, he just let us get on with it , only stepping in occassionally, along with a few other experienced racing people - principally Hiroshi Fushida of rtn - to take the well meaning but utterly clueless 'suit' that was about to derail everything with yet another totally inappropriate hair brained 'proposal' off to one side and 'dealing' with him (or her)...



#30 Jager

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 12:30

As Doug said in response to the original poster, it all comes down to exploiting the regulations, which have varied significantly over the years.

 

Here's a bit of history. If you ignore pre-war and look at the results since 1950 up until this weekend, the score is 41 wins for coupes vs 34 wins for spyders.

 

However, results vary significantly decade by decade:

 

1950's: 1 win for coupes vs 9 wins for spyders

1960's: 5 wins for coupes vs 5 wins for spyders

1970's: 3 wins for coupes vs 7 wins for spyders

1980's: 9 wins for coupes vs 1 win for spyders

1990's: 7 wins for coupes vs 3 win for spyders

2000's: 2 wins for coupes vs 8 win for spyders

2010's: 9 wins for coupes vs 1 win for spyders

2020's: 5 wins for coupes

 

By manufacturer:

Porsche: 14 wins for coupes (inc the Dauer 962) vs 3 win for spyders (5 if you include the Joest WSC)

Ferrari: 3 wins for coupes vs 8 win for spyders

Jaguar: 2 wins for coupes vs 5 win for spyders

Audi: 4 wins for coupes vs 9 win for spyders

 

As note above, the best back to back comparison of coupes vs spyders was in 1999 when Audi entered two of each with identical powerplants. Aside from the coupes having much less development time, what isn't always appreciated is the rules mandated that the coupes had to run skinnier tyres than the spyders, which hampered their performance. In Audi's own words:

 

"Audi entered two R8Cs (coupes) in the 1999 Le Mans ... They were incredibly fast down the straights, but suffered heavily in the corners. This led to the R8Cs being seconds off-pace, sending them plummeting down the order. "

 

The Original R8: History of the Audi R8R and R8C - AudiWorld

 

Had the Audi coupes been able to run the same width tyres as the spyders, perhaps the whole development of the R8 might have been different and a lot more of Audi's wins might have come in the form of coupes.



#31 petere

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Posted 20 June 2024 - 13:20

As Doug said in response to the original poster, it all comes down to exploiting the regulations, which have varied significantly over the years.

 

Here's a bit of history. If you ignore pre-war and look at the results since 1950 up until this weekend, the score is 41 wins for coupes vs 34 wins for spyders.

 

However, results vary significantly decade by decade:

 

1950's: 1 win for coupes vs 9 wins for spyders

1960's: 5 wins for coupes vs 5 wins for spyders

1970's: 3 wins for coupes vs 7 wins for spyders

1980's: 9 wins for coupes vs 1 win for spyders

1990's: 7 wins for coupes vs 3 win for spyders

2000's: 2 wins for coupes vs 8 win for spyders

2010's: 9 wins for coupes vs 1 win for spyders

2020's: 5 wins for coupes

 

By manufacturer:

Porsche: 14 wins for coupes (inc the Dauer 962) vs 3 win for spyders (5 if you include the Joest WSC)

Ferrari: 3 wins for coupes vs 8 win for spyders

Jaguar: 2 wins for coupes vs 5 win for spyders

Audi: 4 wins for coupes vs 9 win for spyders

 

As note above, the best back to back comparison of coupes vs spyders was in 1999 when Audi entered two of each with identical powerplants. Aside from the coupes having much less development time, what isn't always appreciated is the rules mandated that the coupes had to run skinnier tyres than the spyders, which hampered their performance. In Audi's own words:

 

"Audi entered two R8Cs (coupes) in the 1999 Le Mans ... They were incredibly fast down the straights, but suffered heavily in the corners. This led to the R8Cs being seconds off-pace, sending them plummeting down the order. "

 

The Original R8: History of the Audi R8R and R8C - AudiWorld

 

Had the Audi coupes been able to run the same width tyres as the spyders, perhaps the whole development of the R8 might have been different and a lot more of Audi's wins might have come in the form of coupes.

 i'm afraid that there was a hell of a lot more to it than that, most of it non technical....



#32 Jager

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 04:19

Yes, I'm sure there was, but every team has a range of non-technical factors to deal with, which is usually a significant influence on success or failure.

 

But I think as the Bentley success showed, if all other factors were equal (management, resources, development time and a hundred other non-technical issues) and it was just down to the technical elements, hypothetically could an Audi R8C have been as successful as the R8 sypder if allowed to run the same width tyres?



#33 Henri Greuter

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 05:55

Yes, I'm sure there was, but every team has a range of non-technical factors to deal with, which is usually a significant influence on success or failure.

 

But I think as the Bentley success showed, if all other factors were equal (management, resources, development time and a hundred other non-technical issues) and it was just down to the technical elements, hypothetically could an Audi R8C have been as successful as the R8 sypder if allowed to run the same width tyres?

 

 

But if the Audi R8C had been permitted the wider tires, then that other genuine juggernaut within LMP1 would have been permitted so as well:  The Tyota GT-One.

We know how close that car came to victory on the narrow tires so what could that one have done on the wider tires?



#34 petere

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 08:55

Yes, I'm sure there was, but every team has a range of non-technical factors to deal with, which is usually a significant influence on success or failure.

 

But I think as the Bentley success showed, if all other factors were equal (management, resources, development time and a hundred other non-technical issues) and it was just down to the technical elements, hypothetically could an Audi R8C have been as successful as the R8 sypder if allowed to run the same width tyres?

In a word, NO!

 

At the same time you should consider that the Bentley won the race on the same size of narrow tyre in 2003. It actually managed to quad stint those tyres during the night, something the roadsters couldn't do on the wide tyres.

 

Which is why you can't lump all the other issues all teams have to face together and say that they 'don't count', or 'are not an excuse', or whatever you are trying to say.



#35 petere

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 08:57

But if the Audi R8C had been permitted the wider tires, then that other genuine juggernaut within LMP1 would have been permitted so as well:  The Tyota GT-One.

We know how close that car came to victory on the narrow tires so what could that one have done on the wider tires?

Probably run faster stints without the same tyre deg. The tyres are a red herring, we proved that in 2003.



#36 70JesperOH

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 13:20

With regards as to why a winner becomes a winner. Audi took a step back for the 2003 Le Mans, with the three R8s present, run by satellite teams. A number of the 2002 Audi Sport drivers were moved over to Bentley for 2003. Pescarolo, Dome and the ALMS specials from Riley & Scott and Panoz being the other hot cars for that particular year, but running at a different level.

 

At the time I was sure that this was going to be the year of Bentley at Le Mans, despite a cautious debut at the Sebring 12 hours in March. One of the Bentleys had a collision with another car causing a pitstop for the replacement of a nose cone. The stop took an inordinately long time and would be a disaster at Le Mans.

During a discussion with another motor racing scripe at the time, I argued that such a problem would be solved in the intervening three months leading up to Le Mans, with the might of the Volkswagen group behind the effort.

Peter, was the nose cone ever an issue during the spring of 2003 and did it ever made a difference?

 

Jesper



#37 petere

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 13:43

With regards as to why a winner becomes a winner. Audi took a step back for the 2003 Le Mans, with the three R8s present, run by satellite teams. A number of the 2002 Audi Sport drivers were moved over to Bentley for 2003. Pescarolo, Dome and the ALMS specials from Riley & Scott and Panoz being the other hot cars for that particular year, but running at a different level.

 

At the time I was sure that this was going to be the year of Bentley at Le Mans, despite a cautious debut at the Sebring 12 hours in March. One of the Bentleys had a collision with another car causing a pitstop for the replacement of a nose cone. The stop took an inordinately long time and would be a disaster at Le Mans.

During a discussion with another motor racing scripe at the time, I argued that such a problem would be solved in the intervening three months leading up to Le Mans, with the might of the Volkswagen group behind the effort.

Peter, was the nose cone ever an issue during the spring of 2003 and did it ever made a difference?

 

Jesper

Ah, i think i can sniff one of those  "Bentley only won because..." posts.

 

Yes we were so cautious that we set the fastest two times in qualifying at Sebring with a long tail coupe designed specifically for LeMans on a track that we had never considered during the design phase... This of course was before all the nonsense about 'heat damaged floors' began.. That's another story altogether, once again, don't believe what you read (or write).

 

No the nose fixing was never an issue  in 2003.

 

Your synopsis of 'what makes a winner' omits to mention a few key points...

Some very familiar faces in those 'satellite' teams in 2003, all with perfect German..

Three Audi's, with 6 ex GP drivers in the squad, ( we had two cars and three ex GP drivers)...there is always strength in numbers.

All of them with works engines, Michelin tyres developed specifically for the car and the benefit of having run the same car at the track for the previous two years.

 

2003 was the first year in which we had a car specifically designed for the v8 turbo, parity with tyres - Michelin - even though the rears were narrower (not an issue), and a fully dveloped 4 litre engine mapped out for it's GTP restrictor.

 

The driver's seconded from Audi were great, i couldn't fault them, but I would have been just as happy to have had Martin (Brundle) back in the cockpit and i have no hestitation in saying we would have done the same job. 

 

Finally, your reference to the ' the might of Volkswagen group' , other than making sure the building blocks i have described were in place, I don't remember seeing it....


Edited by petere, 21 June 2024 - 14:00.


#38 Odseybod

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 15:42

Not sure if this is the right place - someone will move it if not. But someone did mention 'history' a few posts ago.

 

One of the BBC F1 (radio) commentary team mentioned this morning that Ferrari is the first manufacturer to have won the Monaco GP and Le Mans in the same year since Alfa Romeo, 90 years ago. Anyone care to quibble?



#39 70JesperOH

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 15:44

Peter, taking most of your points but wrestling with a few minors. But who did you consider a challenge for the '03 Le Mans, or were you just sure to make it and from what date or event?

 

Jesper



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#40 Tim Murray

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 15:51

One of the BBC F1 (radio) commentary team mentioned this morning that Ferrari is the first manufacturer to have won the Monaco GP and Le Mans in the same year since Alfa Romeo, 90 years ago. Anyone care to quibble?


I believe it to be correct. I’ve seen it written that it was the same ‘team’ in each of those years. It obviously wasn’t, either in 1934 or 2024, but definitely the same constructor. Alfa also did the double in 1932.

#41 petere

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 16:13

Peter, taking most of your points but wrestling with a few minors. But who did you consider a challenge for the '03 Le Mans, or were you just sure to make it and from what date or event?

 

Jesper

very obviously Audi ! I'm surprised you ask - unless you think those three cars were 2nd rate customer entries with sub parr engines, tyres, drivers....



#42 70JesperOH

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 17:18

I'm considering those three Audi R8s as very likely being upgraded and supported by Audi Sport and to a degree run by Audi Sport personel - but just not to the degree in previous years.

 

Jesper



#43 petere

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 20:00

I'm considering those three Audi R8s as very likely being upgraded and supported by Audi Sport and to a degree run by Audi Sport personel - but just not to the degree in previous years.

 

Jesper

You should factor in that Audi Sport did not run the cars in previous years either, they were officially run by the Joest crew, and 'supported' by Audi.

 

In 2003 Joest were asked to run one of our cars - supported by our people (and by AudiSport's engine people under Herr Baretsky).

 

So it comes down to the relative competance of the different crews, the quality of the drivers and the support engineering. Not to Audi taking a step back.

 

If you think all of that added up to an advantage for Bentley then you should also consider the disadvantage we must have been under without that in previous years and consider what that tells you about the 1st generation Bentley.

 

Or think how a Dunlop shod R8 with a 'safe' engine stratergy, single car entry and a diminished driving squad might have faired in 2002.



#44 chr1s

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Posted 21 June 2024 - 20:28

Thank you to everyone who has taken the trouble to reply to my question. As so often happens, my original, rather simple question gets answered quite early on but then the subject deviates off into something far more interesting and insightful than I could have ever possibly imagined, which is one of the reasons why I love this forum so much!