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May 29, 2014 - 06:42 AM
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ZF Motorsports Detroit Grand Prix Newsletter
Posted by: newsla on May 29, 2014 - 06:42 AM
ZF Motorsports Detroit Grand Prix Newsletter

Johannes van Overbeek drives the No. 2 Tequila PatrĂ³n HPD ARX-03b/Honda with team owner Ed Brown. The duo is coming off of their first win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Their win goes in the record books as the first for a Le Mans P2 car in the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Van Overbeek hopes to carry the momentum from the win at Laguna Seca forward to the streets of Belle Isle.


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Johannes van Overbeek
"I have been on the podium at Belle Isle in World Challenge and have run up front in the American Le Mans Series, but have yet to win there," van Overbeek said. "I enjoy the track and I'm looking forward to returning!"

"Belle Isle looks like an oasis in Detroit," he continued. "The track is challenging, but very rewarding to drive quickly. Detroit is a bumpier circuit compared to Laguna, so I think we will have to raise the car and run a softer suspension setting to handle the bumps."

There are two distinct car designs running in the TUDOR Championship Prototype Class, the Daytona Prototypes (DP) and the Le Mans Prototypes. "Extreme Speed runs the Honda Performance Development P2 car," van Overbeek explained. "The Daytona Prototypes have lots of torque and they're able to get off of the slow corners better than a P2 car. We have more down force and make-up our laps times through the fast turns."

With the differing cars, the DP and P2 cars will prefer different track layouts. "Any track with fast fourth gear corners will suit the P2 cars, like Watkins Glen, Road America, Road Atlanta and of course Laguna Seca," he said.

Continental Tires and ZF Dampers Work in Concert

Continental Tire is the official tire of IMSA and the spec tire for three of the four classes in the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship. The Prototype (P), Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes, all race on Continental tires. The trick for the teams is to out-engineer their competitors to maximize the response of this Continental race tire. Kacey Berberich, Continental engineer, explains the nuances of the race tire.

Q: Define the contact patch of a racing/road tire?

A: The contact patch is the area of the tire contacting the actual road surface. The size of this area varies continually in service due to changes in vertical load. Tire operating pressure will also increase or decrease this area. Camber is used to tune the shape of the contact patch during cornering, helping to maintain maximum contact area during this critical time. For a race tire, the shape of this area (statically) tends to be approximately rectangular, short in length and wide across the width of the tire.

Q: How do the tire and damper work together?

A: Dampers are very important. The damper's main job is to help minimize the vertical load variation on the tire. This is accomplished by reducing oscillation of the suspension movement. Tires don't like load variation but the grip and forces a tire produce are very load dependent. Successful race engineers must do everything they can to control how the tire is loaded over bumps in the racetrack, and through dynamics such as cornering, accelerating, and braking. Excessive load variation can cause increased heating, and wear of the tire. Dampers adjust the speed that weight transfer happens, and this is a very powerful race car tuning tool.

Q: How do you develop the formula for recommended spring rates?

A: We actually determine this value by testing each race tire we produce. We perform a dynamic low speed test on the inflated, rolling tire. We do this at the same predetermined load and pressure condition for each tire size. This stiffness rating varies slightly tire to tire. By rating each tire, teams can employ various strategies on how to best match up multiple sets of tires. This can help set to set consistency, and also help a team to improve a particular racecar or racetrack characteristic.

Q: How do you develop a tire for the different racing surfaces the TUDOR Series runs on - from Daytona to Sebring to Detroit?

A: The design of our tires is evolutionary. From the very beginning we emphasize safety. In the most basic design sense, it is necessary to closely manage tire operating temperature and wear when we develop our race tires. This is application specific. We typically start off with in house test wheel tire testing, followed up with real world on track tire testing.

We work closely with IMSA to keep up to date on the latest rule modifications for each class, and to understand how these changes may affect tire loading, vehicle speeds, time between pit stops, or a number of other factors. We will race in the rain so we also provide wet tire designs that will perform well in conditions ranging from damp to approaching flooded. It is quite an undertaking to supply the various sizes for all the different vehicle types and classes, wet and dry.

The TUDOR classes currently utilize either of two tire designs. We have a Roval, and a Road Course tire. These are quite different from a construction standpoint. The Roval tire is much better suited for running at sustained high speeds on the high banked tracks such as Daytona and Kansas. Our more traditional Road Course tire is designed to give high performance and superior driver feel on tracks as diverse as the streets of Long Beach and the natural rolling hills of Road America.

Detroit Grand Prix, from F1 to TUDOR Championship

The Motor City and the Detroit Grand Prix has a long racing history. Formula One began racing through the downtown streets in 1982 - where none other than Ayrton Senna was a three time winner. CART took over in 1989 with Michael Andretti winning twice in that period.

The race was moved to its present location on the 982 acre picturesque Belle Isle Park located in the middle of the Detroit River. Detroit is the Motor City. It has gasoline running through its veins and a long history of race cars running through its streets. Although the race was fan and community favorite the event took a six year hiatus before being resurrected by Roger Penske in 2007. Since that time IndyCar has been the featured event. This weekend's race will see the IndyCar teams running a double race weekend known as the Duel in Detroit.

In addition to the open-wheel cars, sports cars joined the schedule for the first time in 2007 and 2008 when the American Le Mans Series Cars took to the track. In 2012 the Grand-Am Series joined the event and has continued into the debut of the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship on the island circuit this weekend. The TUDOR Championship will feature a full field of Prototypes and GTD class cars for a combined grid of 32 of the finest brands in racing, including Corvette, Porsche, BMW, Audi and Ferrari.

ZF Motorsports Race Reporter Video Library

The ZF Race Reporter series is in full production. The videos, hosted by Motor Racing Network's Tony Rizzuti, show race, event, and technical features from the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, inclduing the popular ZF Fan Reporter segment Past and future editions can be viewed at www.Facebook.com/zfmotorsport. Look for new content from TUDOR Championship events at Daytona, Sebring, Detroit, Watkins Glen, Indianapolis, and Road Atlanta.

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