Organising a automobile for the rigours of the Nürburgring 24 hours is considered one of motor racing’s nice challenges. Suspension firm, KW Automotive, labored laborious to develop a five-way damper to provide groups akin to Porsche and BMW set-up choices beforehand unavailable on their GT3 vehicles. Though the 24-hour race was shortened by rain and fog this yr, automobile set-up was essential for the dash to the flag and carried out nicely sufficient on Olaf Manthey’s twenty fifth anniversary on the ’Ring for him to take the victory.
‘We simply launched a brand new specification for the Manthey automobile, and that might be a future GT3 damper, which may even be on the BMW M4 GT3,’ confirmed Thomas Rechenberg, head of motorsport at KW Automotive. ‘We now have constructed from a single adjustment to a five-way adjustment and developed it on the seven-post rig with the Manthey automobile. The damper has a cartridge system, so principally, we’re benchmarking in opposition to Öhlins and Multimatic, taking a look at what they’re doing now, seeing how we will put energy into our fashionable system.’
The damper is an replace to the corporate’s four-way damper that was launched in 2017 and campaigned efficiently on the ’Ring within the VLN sequence (now referred to as the NLS). From the extensions seen over brows of hills to the compressions in dips, plus aggressive kerbs and modifications in monitor floor, the Nürburgring is a uniquely demanding circuit, and suspension improvement is vital to good lap occasions and site visitors administration. ‘What we discovered from our four-way damper is to have a very quick valve opening time, and so the opening time is extraordinarily quick with our new product,’ says Rechenberg.
‘On the Nürburgring, you have to have a brief valve opening as a result of whether it is too lengthy, you’ve got two decisions – no grip as a result of your valve is simply too typically closed, or your automobile bottoming out as a result of it’s all the time open.’ All methods forward Whereas the five-way damper is the gold customary within the vary, KW continues to supply two, three and four-way dampers for opponents within the 24-hour race. ‘The 2-way damper is fairly simple, stable damping expertise with no reservoir, so is inexpensive to small groups within the RCN or GLP, however for the NLS and the Nürburgring 24 hours, we’re all the time offering the 5 or three-way adjustable dampers,’ says Rechenberg.
Improvement has been ongoing on the seven-post rig with Porsche and BMW in preparation for the season, and KW discovered it was going softer on spring settings than anticipated. That offers the flexibleness to run offline, a pivotal level to racing in a multi-class method the place vehicles frequently overtake site visitors. It additionally provides the groups higher choices in opposed climate situations. ‘If you’re driving a single lap in tremendous pole and you’re on the road, then everyone seems to be fast,’ says Rechenberg. ‘As quickly as you permit the road to overhaul, although, different vehicles had been fully misplaced.’ Managing the kerbs is all the time a key to surviving the 24 hours, as typically vehicles should run over them to keep away from contact with different vehicles, whereas the character of the monitor can closely punish minor errors.
‘You construct a automobile that’s principally half rally as a result of typically it’s important to lower by way of the grass,’ notes Rechenberg. ‘We thought that possibly we additionally wanted to suit hydraulic bump stops into the highway course damper as a result of we expect it’s obligatory.’ Softly-softly Setting the vehicles up on the journey peak required for the Nürburgring can be a problem for the GT3 groups, with a minimal journey peak of 70mm specified, far greater than different circuits. On this case, it’s preferable to have a softer spring that can sit the automobile down beneath load. For instance, at full pace on the Dottinger Hohe, which is able to then assist to cut back drag. ‘For us, it’s a very troublesome story,’ admits Rechenberg.
‘Our improvement benefit, what we is perhaps working with, may be taken away once you get a smaller restrictor, or extra weight, due to our prime pace. However, we all the time need to work with a homologated automobile, and should you cease growing, you aren’t aggressive anymore. ‘These mushy springs give the choice to drive dynamically decrease, which supplies you higher downforce, much less drag and subsequently extra prime pace. You enter the NLS 1 or NLS 2, they usually see that the Porsche has gained prime pace, they usually marvel the place that’s coming from. You then obtain extra weight and a smaller restrictor [from the BoP engineers], however it’s important to work like this.’
Having such modifications in set-up creates an enormous downside for the engineers managing the Steadiness of Efficiency, too, as their job is to have a look at the physics and attempt to give you a good system, however they will solely go thus far into the information for every automobile. ‘The BoP is now a bit blind,’ says Rechenberg. ‘If they’re engaged on tyre put on, and also you give the automobile a set-up that enables it to work offline with out compromising tyre put on, how is that going to be judged by Steadiness of Efficiency? You’ll be able to have a very good lap but additionally be fast over a stint.
‘Then you’ve got different producers who can do one fast lap within the race after which see their tempo dramatically fall off. That’s making the entire course of tougher to deal with.’ One of many keys to understanding suspension set-up is, in fact, to have knowledge from a number of vehicles, and for the Nürburgring 24 hours this yr, KW equipped 61 vehicles, round 50 per cent of the grid. Not all of them had been in SP9, and never all of them featured the most recent damper expertise, however all had been equally as necessary to the corporate. ‘GT4 might be a extra necessary class for us,’ admits Rechenberg. ‘We’ll do the subsequent [BMW] M4 GT4, and we’ve got performed all of the AMG GT vehicles, aside from the Toyota and the Porsche, so we don’t need to lose floor there, both.’
Improvement is allowed within the SP9 class on the Nürburgring and, with BMW’s M4 testing at Spa mid-June, extra knowledge has been gathered to assist with the set-up sheets accessible to Porsche and BMW prospects beneath the brand new homologation. Below present guidelines, dampers are homologated into GT3 by the producers with no possibility to alter mid-cycle, which suggests race knowledge is tougher to come back by apart from open take a look at days or open technical rules. Prototypes forward; nonetheless, the corporate has additionally its sights set on barely totally different targets. Having secured the GT3 win on the Nürburgring and partnered with BMW, KW can be trying on the new Hypercar and LMDh guidelines to produce one of many chassis producers and OEMs which can be .
It gained’t be Porsche or Audi because the VAG firms have signed with Multimatic and so will use its suspension expertise, however Rechenberg is assured KW might be on the grid in Prototypes at Le Mans. ‘We’re in good contact with one of many chassis producers and one of many producers,’ he says. ‘I believe the likelihood to finish up in one of many tasks is sort of excessive, and it’s nonetheless open from the rule facet whether or not or not the damper might be a producer half or a chassis design half. The Individuals are favouring the associated fee facet that the dampers are a part of the chassis design, however the ACO desires to provide producers a bit little bit of freedom, however that’s one thing that’s not but determined.’ What is probably going is that GT3 might be at Le Mans in 2024 on the newest, and that places KW Automotive on the grid on the world’s most well-known endurance race with vehicles that might be able to securing class wins. The event work that continues to be performed on the Nürburgring will definitely put KW in good stead for that eventuality.