Tag Archives: Spa Francorchamps

2017 has been a brilliant year for GT endurance racing

The recent Spa 24 Hour featured a close fight for victory right into the final hour, but that’s still nowhere near being the closest GT endurance race in 2017. The previous two 24 hour races for GT sportscars (at the Nurburgring and Le Mans) featured incredible last lap battles for victory. That’s amazing! Not only that, but the GTLM class at the Daytona 24 back in January also produced a very close finish, so there has been an amazing trend of nail-biting GT enduros this year.

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GT: BMW have done a great job modifying a GT3 car for Alex Zanardi

Zanardi

Alex Zanardi lost both his legs in a CART accident 14 years ago but will race this weekend at the Spa 24 hours in a BMW that has been specially modified for him. Zanardi will share the car with Timo Glock and Bruno Spengler which has presented BMW with a number of interesting technical challenges.

Although Zanardi has raced in cars modified for him before (such as the one pictured) he has never shared a seat with other drivers and has never had a cockpit customised for him as thoroughly as this. BMW have done a great job because there is a lot more involved than just adding hand controls to the steering wheel.

  • There are two (connected) brake pedals. The first of these is the standard pedal for Glock and Spengler, whilst the second is actually a pin that slides into Zanardi’s prosthetic leg. Zanardi’s pedal/pin is on the far right of the footwell, as opposed to the conventional left, so he can more effectively use his right leg for braking. There is a fixed divider next to the pin so the other drivers don’t accidentally bump it during the race.
  • The clutch is activated by a lever on the steering wheel. The space that was previously occupied by the clutch pedal is now a special footrest for Zanardi’s left prosthetic leg so that he has more stability in the car.
  • The pedal box has been moved lower to help Zanardi with braking.
  • Zanardi has his own steering wheel that will be changed during the pitstops. This has a ‘throttle ring’ attached which is a bit like a massive upshift paddle behind the wheel that he uses instead of an accelerator pedal.
  • Since losing his legs, Zanardi has been forced to take extra steps to regulate his body temperature. As such, BMW have installed air conditioning because this will be more effective than the cool suit he used previously.
  • Engineers will adjust the car’s setup to accommodate Zanardi when he takes over from the other drivers. They will change the engine mapping to cater for the different type of throttle input and will also adjust the brake ratios because Zanardi applies less pressure than Glock or Spengler.

BMW are aiming to be in contention for outright victory.

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WEC: The 2015 World Endurance Championship is incredibly close

APLM

Not only have speeds increased in the WEC this year but the racing has become mighty close. At the first race of the season the winning margin between Audi and Porsche was just 4.6 seconds. That’s barely anything. The race was a thriller, and although the split between those same two cars was bigger three weeks later at Spa Francorchamps, it was still only 13.4 seconds. That’s a cumulative gap of just 18 seconds after 12 hours and 2,416km of racing – and that’s without any safety cars bunching up the field! It’s amazing how close the racing has been, especially when you consider that Audi and Porsche use two completely different types of engine. The regulations that allow a 2-litre V4 engine to be competitive against a 4-litre V6 (by using more electrical energy) are working perfectly.

Hopefully it stays that way over 24 hours at Le Mans.

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WEC: The 2015 World Endurance Championship is as fast as Formula One (almost)

WEC

The speed of the World Endurance Championship has increased this year (thanks to three manufacturers pushing new technology) and the leaders recent laptimes at Silverstone were only a few seconds off Lewis Hamilton’s winning pace at the same circuit. The LMP1 machines were actually quicker than some of the F1 tailenders, which is amazing because they’re notably heavier and are designed to run at that speed for 24 hours.

The cars run again this weekend at Spa Francorchamps, another Grand Prix circuit that will provide an interesting comparison.

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