Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Honda Post Race report - Super GT Fuji Speedway circuit

Honda publishes regular reports about their Super GT races on their main website at www.honda.co.jp in Japan. Unfortunately those reports are written in japanese. Nevertheless, one of TOVA's long-time support who goes by the nick of 'CR-V9', have been regularly posting his english translations of those reports here on 'TOVA Honda Fan' but on the feedback/comment sections of our regular articles.

The recent Super GT Fuji race ended in very heavy tears for Honda. All but one of the NSX'es retired from the race. The last one ended 15 laps behind the eventual winner (Impul R35). How can that happen? 

As usual, CR-V9's provided a translation of Matsumoto-san's post-race report, in the feedback/comments section of our 10G CTR Geneva article. However, this time I felt it is too important to lament there so I have elevated it to a full blown article on Honda Fan. CR-V's translation below will serve to answer the many questions and concerns  Honda and Super GT fans have. Sentences in italics are CR-V9's own thoughts.

Matsumoto Report from the ground : post-Fuji Speedway.

(This is hard. This is very hard for me. Matsumoto-san poured his soul out.)
The race ended in a blunt total unconditional defeat (!). Our 5 NSX Concept-GTs had qualified in 11th to 15th out of the 15 GT500 cars, and in the race 4 out of 5 retired, the last one finished the race but 15 laps behind. There is no excuse. None. There can't be any excuse. We did everything we could to prepare not to end up like this but to no avail in the end. It ended up in a regrettable result. There is nothing but to apologise to our fans who had expected us do better. I am sorry from the bottom of my heart.

There are a couple of reasons for our most devastating defeat. First, the 70kg weight handicap for the MR and hybrid cars because it was discussed (or negotiated or consulted) that a MR and a hybrid are considered advantageous in the race.

However, it has turned out to be very challenging to get the 100% out of the regulated common monocoque chassis which is originally designed for FR cars. Also it is in accordance with DTM regulations and that makes the car with more downforce than we need, thus tend to make the cars perform better at the corners. Then again, the 70kg extra weight makes it harder at the corner (exit speed) as you can imagine.

Having said so, the weight handicap was negotiated upon so it's not fair to complain now. I just wanted to explain that it is one of the reasons why we're struggling with now. (not an excuse) Anyhow we are doing our best to overcome the challenges.

Another challenge is car settings in weight balance, suspension, etc. We haven't learned quite worked it out yet.

We didn't even participated in the testing at Sepang in Malaysia. We were busy finalizing the design and basic layout of the car until the last minute because we realized the new regulation wouldn't allow any changes to the basic of the cars once it's done. But at the end we didn't have enough time to work out the car settings on the ground.

Another problem is overheating. The engine is sitting right behind the driver compartment. There is no room in between in this FR designed monocoque chassis. We could make the air-intake opening bigger if it's a commercial car to ensure enough cooling but in racing cars, the bigger the openings the bigger the air drags. So we'd want them as small as possible. And there the placements of radiator or intercooler are also regulated so we can't just do so much what we want.

At the Fuji speeday, the engine room got overheated and the overheat-safety program (system) kicked in to shut the throttle system down. That was why the NSX GT that stopped by the side, after cooling down was able to be driven back the pit once the safety system was resetted. This happened to all the 4 cars that retired.

(If someone from Honda racing is reading ... The air coming from the front of the car is routed out to the sides. Is it possible to reroute some of that air into the engine room? Maybe lowers the down force a bit, too? Just a thought)

I'm repeating again but I'm feeling full with regrets not be able to respond to our royal fans who have been supporting us all along. I am sorry from the bottom of my heart.

Anyhow, drastic changes can not be done right now because of the new regulations. For now, we only can work our magic on car settings to better our cars' performances in coming races.

We still continue keep doing our best to develop further and we truly appreciate your royal, uncompromising supports, from the bottom of our hearts.


FiSHChan said...

Well that sucks.

I think it is midi_amp who alredy predict the whole thing right from the beginning from one article about the car...

TOVA said...

Actually lots of long time hard core Honda fans have been not very optimistic about Honda in recent times. It is sad how things have played out to our greatest fears.

CR-V9 said...

Here are my interpretations of what have happened so far. I'm not familiar with SuperGT so I'm not sure though.
1. Honda couldn't have continued to use their old HSV anymore because the whole GT series has changed with their new regulation. They must use the regulated Monocoque chassis. Which seems to have its driver's seat built in.
2. The chassis itself is in accordance with DTM. Which seems to mean that the whole front end of the chassis, the bottom floor is very good at down force. The chassis itself is already down force heavy car. And the upper body is heavily regulated so they could do much to reduce air drag. Only the bottom part of the car, the wheel axis line down, are allowed to modify for aerodynamics but ... this is a big bad... it seems if I'm not mistaken, once these body parts are set they can not change any of them through out the year. Which means they do have to come up with ones that are good in fast courses as well as slow (more corners) courses.

3. Not only the chassis is common but also some suspension parts are also regulated common parts they have to use. Only the mounting geometry is allowed to work on but until the end of May, after that they're not allowed to change.
It seems they didn't have enough time on the ground to work out their suspension settings so far because they spent too much time on designing the basics of the car.
4. The basic regulations were already set for the other teams (FR cars) early but for Honda (MR & Hybrid) the small details had to be worked out or negotiated out with other participants (Toyota, Nissan). Which meant they couldn't finalize their basic design until late late last year. I'm not sure how much say they had to negotiate against T & N though. Honda would have been out voted on any issue? 70kg maybe? they didn't have any choice but to agree? I don't know but 70 kg seems a bit too heavy to me.

5. the biggest issue with FR regulated monocoque chassis with a mid mounted engine is there is no room between the engine and the driver's room. I'm not sure how much they're allowed to modify the chassis by the regulation. It seems the basic layout of their car is set so I'm not sure how much they could do, modify the chassis to get more air flow into the engine room to keep it cool.
6. Only thing left to be develop is tires. It seems tires are still allowed to be developed to cater to each car. NSX Concept GT is a MR car so weight balance on the front and rear tires differ from other cars. I'm not sure how much good that would help them though.

Only thing I can see is that T & N see the 70kg handicap is too heavy thus they will allow it reduce to 40-30 kg? maybe?

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CR-V9 said...

Matsumoto-san Report from the ground - Preview AUTOPOLIS at the foot of Mount Aso at about 900m above sea level, the highest among all circuits in Japan.

As you know aero (body panel) packages and suspensions are heavily regulated so they can't be changed during the season. Engine development is still allowed but 3 engines per car, per season are allowed, so we'd have to wait 3 races before we could put in the new engine with the new developed parts.

How about the Hybrid, you ask?
Hybrid system is highly regulated, too. Any changes to the hybrid outputs or the power band are not allowed although it could only shorten the time comma 2 (0.2) or 3 so it wouldn't really change anything today.

Only thing left there to do is the car settings. It is clear now that our current challenge is the car settings. Hopefully we'll do better jobs this time though we won't be challenging the top.
We're anticipating #18 Weilder Modulo with Michelin's would perform better at Autopolis considering the results after the tire tests.

We're doing the best we can as always. We appreciate your unconditional supports. We thank you very much.

TOVA said...

As usual CR-V9, you are providing an incredible service to TOVA with your translations. Please keep it up. I have 'upgraded' your comment above to a full fledged article on this page. Thanks !

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