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We often hear mainstream automotive manufacturer explaining their involvement in motorsport as a test-bed for new technologies and innovations that will be passed down to road going vehicles. In reality we all know that the carbon ceramic brakes on an Audi Le Mans car or the power plant for the Mercedes F1 car will never be applied to anything but road going exotica. What then if it were to work the other way; if the construction knowledge, hours of development and materials expertise taken to develop components for road cars were applied to competition machinery?
Development of Sara Williams’ Subaru rally car proves the point; new for 2012 is a raft of developments from leading manufacturers that are being applied to boost performance and reliability. Here’s the rundown of what has been done: new on the car for 2012 is an exhaust system from sponsor Klarius Group; a list of QH suspension and engine ancillary parts; turbo wizardry from Owen Developments; oil from Millers Oils; and an overhauled ECU from Cosworth owned, Pectel, no less.
Doug Bentley, Klarius Group R&D Manager describes the focus for this year:
“We ran a number of components from the QH brand range of steering and suspension parts last year and they performed extremely well, better even than we had expected, which is testament to their inherent quality and robustness. We have replaced the components this year as the car is likely to compete in eight separate events, each with multiple stages and at a punishing pace. We have also added new bushes and rod ends, for good measure.
“Next up are rotating electrics, we have replaced the starter motor and alternator with our own Friesen brand items to ensure there are no issues with starting the car in tough conditions or keeping the battery charged during an event. A failure in either of these components can ruin a race result, so it was best not left to chance. Again general manufacturing quality is the key here, for a component such as this to last the life of a road car it has to be extremely tough and well built; this is why we test and provide an individual certificate of performance for each individual unit.
“Exhausts are a significant part of our product range and so it would be expected that we manufacture a system for Sara’s car. We design and fit test every one of our road going designs, which cover over 90% of the cars on the road today, to a real car before it is signed off. We also measure noise and balance back pressure to very tight tolerances.
“We were able to use the same design process for Sara’s car, though the aims and eventual product was different to that which you would see on a standard car. For a road car the noise has to be suppressed and the back pressure has to be balanced to ensure maximum engine efficiency and fuel economy, too high, or too low and an engine is working outside its ideal operating envelope. For Sara’s car we tuned the back pressure for maximum power at higher revs and to meet the noise regulations of her series, if you watch the video you can see that the new exhaust system adds 20bhp to Sara’s car which is working with an air restrictor on the engine intake, so represents a significant rise in power.
“We modified the manufacturing process slightly to maximise performance; using ‘Mandrel Bending’, which involves an internal tool to ensure the tube diameter is not reduced, to ensure that gas flow wasn’t restricted along the tube. We also produced a protection plate to reduce the danger of damage from the loose surfaces Sara drives on and a quick release system for a fast change over in the event of a problem. The welding and material selection process however was identical.
“We also fitted a high-flow race CAT to the system to ensure emissions were controlled, while not compromising performance, which is a desirable result for all concerned. We produce race CATs for several road car based race series including BMW and Mazda, so the manufacturing technology that goes into our road car range has already stood us in excellent stead for developing race units.
“We design and manufacture our own units so we can adapt the number of cells in the filter matrix and balance this with the active catalyst coating technology. This means we can achieve the ideal gas flow while still providing an effective reaction inside the unit to convert the more polluting gases and vapours into less harmful ones.”
Mark Harrison, Motorsport Director for turbo technology experts, Owen Developments, comments: “Much of the success enjoyed by this business is based on providing better quality turbos for road cars; developing vane geometry, plenum design and developing better quality roller bearings to improve spool up speeds and provide more engine response and better longevity. These attributes are also what race cars and rally cars are looking for, hence we supply a complete range of turbo units that are suitable for road cars and road car based competition cars such as Sara’s Subaru.”
Claiming a Cosworth race ECU is a road car item is stretching the point slightly, although Cosworth technology has been used on road cars since the company’s inception; who could forget the string of Ford road machinery that benefitted from some Cosworth halo effect. The important aspect of this part of the car though is that car manufacturers have to use engine maps that cover a huge variety of conditions, fuel quality, driving styles and geographic operating environments.
The result is always a compromise. Which various tuning companies have taken advantage of, offering power increases and fuel economy boosts with aftermarket mapping, especially in countries such as the UK and Japan where fuel quality at the pumps is generally very good. The ECU on Sara’s car is tuned to the car itself, but very much reliant on the technology developed for all cars.
The exhaust system, turbo, engine ECU map and even the engine oil supplied by UK company Millers Oils, which uses ground breaking nano-technology to reduce friction in the engine, are made to work in harmony on the rolling road at Owen Developments. Bringing together a list of road car and road car inspired technology and components in order to create a road car based, group N rally car that’s performance is greater than the sum of its constituent parts. Watch the rolling road test online here (URL tba).
The final element of course is the driver, and Sara is looking forward to another season at the top of her game. Building on a number of awards in 2011, she hopes to deliver some great results in 2012, you can download her event diary and follow her progress on the Klarius Group website www.QH.com and on Twitter @SaraRally and @Klarius.
Picture 1: Sara Williams' Subaru on the rolling road at Owen Developments during testing.
Picture 2: Doug Bentley with the new and improved Klarius exhaust.
Picture 3: Turbo that has been supplied by Owen Developments.
Picture 4: Examing the final results following the rolling road power test.
About the KLARIUS Group
Klarius Group is the largest European manufacturer of aftermarket car parts today. The Klarius Group operates five high-volume Manufacturing Plants, a Research & Development Centre, four European Technical Centres, eight International Logistics & Distribution Hubs, and eighteen national and regional Stock Warehouses based across Europe. Klarius Group Headquarters are located in Manchester (UK).
The Klarius Group employs 1,200 personnel across Europe, and has an annual turnover of 350 million Euros.
The two current major market brands within the Klarius Group are Klarius Emission Control Products and QH Automotive parts. Both the QH and Klarius product brands represent a range of OE quality replacement automotive products. Klarius Group companies now offer over 100,000 parts, covering the majority of the European Car Parc, supplying over 80,000 parts every day, to over 5,600 delivery points in more than 136 countries.
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