Sports Prototype Race Car Optimization 2002-01-3286
Performance simulations have been performed on two alternative race car configurations to establish whether the racing regulations for the Le Mans 24-hour race and other related series provide effective equivalence between the different, eligible vehicle configurations. In particular, two different types have been investigated; the prestigious LMP900 prototype class and the less powerful but lighter LMP675 class. It is shown that around the Le Mans circuit the equivalence is remarkably effective with the two types each having the potential to achieve almost identical lap times. Because of the unusual nature of the Le Mans circuit which is dominated by long, high speed straights simulations have also been performed for a more typical road circuit. The results show that the relative performance of the lighter car is enhanced resulting in a better laptime than that of the more powerful LMP900 class. Lastly, The simulation software has been adapted to provide comparative predictions of a Le Mans LMP900 car with various combinations of hybrid petrol/electric drives, all of which may be considered to be broadly equivalent in terms of the racing regulations. The results demonstrate that a parallel hybrid configuration could be used to achieve either performance or efficiency gains relative to a conventional car although those gains are relatively small.