WTAC 2019 Spotters guide
Pro class Intro
This is actually a really hard thing to write. You always have to try and be fair and balanced but there are always facts or opinions that others disagree with. I sincerely invite discussion from teams to present another perspective! Think of this as starting point and just one man’s perspective.
As a disclaimer AMB Aero (my company) has designed Under Suzuki’s Scorch Racing Silvia, Lyfe Motorsport R35 GTR, Revline Racing Porsche 968 on this list. I will make a best effort to be impartial.
In an effort to remove as much of my personal bias and remain scientific I primarily used sector times as the source for analysis on downforce and drag levels. I placed cameras around the track to measure point to point times, especially acceleration rates in low/mid speed and then a trap speed or look at in car videos posted by teams as the power and drag levels are the key to backing out downforce and grip. I download all the sector and corner segment times into simulation using ChassisSim sometimes averaging the numbers from various methods in case of disagreement and run simulations until all the segment times top speeds and rates of acceleration fit the simulated lap. The tire model is based on a combination of tire rig test data and instrumented track testing. The model is isothermal, although we have done some thermal testing and simulations for the purpose of lightweight simulation we keep basic offsets in mind especially late lap or for heavier cars or ones with large balance figures.
Team factor: 5/5
Min weight: 1056kg
Driver: The car is piloted by Barton Mawer a highly experienced international and National Racing driver. Now into his third year giving him much time to adapt and develop alongside of the car.
Lap time expected: Low 1:19 possibly into 1:18 sec range.
Engine offset rearward and lower for improved center of gravity. Expecting a large boost in power output on the second year of refinement for the billet head and block of the Thor engine.
The clear favorite to win 2019! With a high (possibly highest) budget team, this has allowed them 5/5 rating on nearly all factors. They have the team, the tech and the funding to win. Their minimum weight while higher than the Silvia contingent is partially offset by a featherweight driver closing some of the gap and making them a force to be reckoned with.
If I go by the power levels quoted by the team, the car appears to be on a higher drag strategy, the car is at the absolute maximums in terms of track width. This gains downforce and mechanical cornering grip at the cost of drag. The team may have planned this and rely on the Thor engine to make up for any disadvantage. Sector times indicate strong downforce and superb power to weight. The Aero attitude around the entire circuit is holding them in the peak ranges of the aero map. I see this is as a key advantage, making the most of the available downforce in all situations. The car is just so stable and smooth in places other teams struggle. Much is also owed to keen vehicle dynamics, active dampers, solid setup and tuning. A total package left to want for nothing.
MCA Suspension S13
Team factor: 4.5/5
Min weight: 1001kg
Strengths: Murray Coote, the mastermind of the project seems to have achieved an art like balance of forward progress and refinement. Setting realistic goals and sticking with them. The car may not have perfection in any one category but a force of all factors on a simple and refined setup has lead to multiple championship wins for the team.
Weaknesses: Temporary team of mostly volunteers means a little more chaos on the day, but when things go smoothly for them outside of the box thinking and ingenuity make them second to none.
Driver: Every year MCA brings an absolute top shelf driver. This year will be no exception as they are bringing Supercars star Andre Heimgartner to pilot the hammerhead.
Lap time expected: Low 1:20 into 1:19
Engine power increases and minor aero setup refinements possible
2018 was a bit of an odd year for the team so we have to extrapolate their 2020 expectation based on 2018 unrealized gains plus 2019 new gains. The car could potentially be a contender but we expect RP968 to be capable into the 1:18 range this. It is an aging build but a bit of luck and realizing 100% of full potential could still give them a shot at the top step.
The aero may lack the raw downforce of Under Suzuki or RP968 but regains strength on power to weight ratio and low drag.
The suspension is a more traditional setup, lacking active damping or third springs. They will no doubt extract the most possible performance of a traditional coil over that street car owners can relate to.
Team factor: 6/5 (yes six of five)
Min weight: 1056kg
Strengths: Exceptional engine power, exception team, three time champions return with a lightweight car
Weaknesses: Dated aero package
Driver: Garth Walden / Kosta Pohorukov
Lap time expected: Low 1:20 into 1:19 possible with luck
Major chassis over-hall and weight loss presumed to have achieved minimum weight
Tilton.. the only three time victors should leave zero doubts on the table about the team’s abilities. Their world crushing engine power fuel this well-oiled machine that is now returning much lighter for 2019. While the aero basics seem mostly unchanged for this year from what was first used in the post Nemo era, while it may be dated they may not even need pinnacle downforce to fight with the best. Based on the sector times and simulation analysis the car is shining in acceleration power and 4wd traction is real. The lack of event best sectors is hiding behind a significant weight handicap. After adjusting for obtaining minimum weight weight, it is very fast indeed. This could be one of the next generation of cars if they have sufficient time to sort the package.
The team are the masters of this track, it is in their backyard and they have run it more than anyone. They stand a good chance of a faster learning curve than the overseas teams struggling with new cars.
Scorch Racing / Under Suzuki S15
Team factor: 4/5
Min weight: 1001kg
Strengths: This new car build could potentially represent the future of time attack and Unders best shot to win WTAC. They also will have gained huge lap time in hitting the minimum weight. The suspension is SuperGT / DTM level.
Weaknesses: This year the team has had almost no testing, such drastic changes will not see the true potential until they have been race track hardened. In the past the team was lacking on acceleration sectors compared with MCA and RP968 on the fast lap, but we have to study this again when the nitrous system is turned on and the larger turbo is installed.
Driver: Under Suzuki I have seen drive at the professional level when he is in his groove. However, he will still need those laps to get his potential the last minute schedule and so much focus on building the car will need drive time. With every trouble free session the team runs the probability of success will increase.
Lap time expected: 1:20 range this year, faster is possible but slower is likely if the car faces any major reliability concerns. Long term I believe 1:17 is a very reasonable goal.
Massive weight reduction and a hugely improved suspension.
Such an advanced suspension, while impressive will be new to the car and team. They will be learning how to setup a different beast and trying to get on track. They have a tremendous challenge ahead of them and doing it all so far from home.
Though it has a dated Aero package, the sectors do indicate a possibility they have the highest downforce of the top three.
If the team can refine the car this year with a target on 2020, that could be a year to remember.
Revline Racing Porsche 968 – Team Sweden
Team factor: 4/5
Strengths: This could even be the fastest car in Europe or certainly a contender for northern Europe for non-tube chassis cars (based on Mantorp Park lap times). The package is refined, and has solid power considering it still has an original engine block.
Weaknesses: Compared to the pro class cars they are significantly heavier causing a multi second handicap. The compliance with original class rules has limited them from tunnels to a rear diffuser only, a significant downforce and efficiency loss compared to RP or Scorch although their downforce is higher than MCA and probably Tilton as well.
Driver: Alx Danielson is a former Formula 1 test driver. Need we say more? A WTAC first to have that level of driver that came from F1 in the pilot seat.
Lap time expected: 1:24 range
First year team at WTAC
Keep in mind we have no sector times for them at this track so the numbers are a bit more speculative, using a simulation model of the car built on running of European tracks and applying it to SMP.
For any first-year team will have a lot to learn about the track, weather, surface, driving and run of the car. As they get into the flow the times will drop as long as the car stays reliable.
The team has commented their major goal would be to beat the first year RP968 lap time since that is a closer comparison to their current car and same base platform.
Lyfe Motorsport R35 GTR – Team USA
Team factor: 5/5
Strengths: With a fresh new engine their power output bump comes from a highly refined VR38 monster engine. Team runs smoothly and knows the car inside and out. Just from the scale of the rear wing, you can get a sense the car is carrying massive downforce.
Weaknesses: Weight, the team claims 1400kg, making them as much as 400kg heavier than the current top cars. 4wd and big power can make up for some of those things as we saw with Tilton in years past, but that is a huge penalty. The team doesn’t seem to believe they have a shot at overall but have their personal goals in mind.
Driver: Cole Powelson, Rob Chairslayer .
Lap time expected: 1:25-1:27 range
Engine power back up to crazy level
Team running smooth, race wins under their belt
This team has done extremely well in North America, fresh off their Super Lap Battle victory at COTA, they notoriously bested the HKS R35 to win a briefcase full of cash. That said, the level of the cars at WTAC is different than the USA. Will Au-Yeung also came off of a string of North American victories only ran 1:27 range at Sydney Motorsport Park. If this car was 400kg lighter, it would absolutely be a contender but their minimum weight would be 1200kg anyway and the team has a more modest goal to beat Will Au-Yeung’s lap time to solidify themselves as the fastest North American car. It’s a battle against the clock for them and expect the roaring 1400hp VR38 engine to sound hypnotically good and superstar drivers to put on a show in pro and pro-am classes.