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    Event Review: MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013

    The Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013, Europe’s leading conference for Low Carbon, High Performance Technology, showed that efficiency improvements are accelerating in the world of Motorsport

    Highlights from MIA Low Carbon event on 9 January 2013 include:

    • The announcement that Drayson Racing is the first team to enter the new Formula E championship with its electric racing car
    • Interview with Jean-Francois Weber from Green GT, who is entering a hydrogen fuel cell racing car in the Le Mans 2013
    • Ben Bowlby provided a review of the performance of the DeltaWing in Le Mans 2012.

    Some key ideas for green Motorsport:

    • Motorsport can define what is aspirational and cool, and so it should be leading from the front, but motorsport can only change at the speed of the regulators, and the world is changing at a quicker rate than the regulators.
    • Motorsport is playing ‘catch-up’ with the automotive industry in the area of efficiency
    • Regulations should encourage motorsport to mirror the technological developments in the automotive industry, to make the automotive-motorsport link as relevant as possible.
    • Small motorsport companies are ideal to quickly develop new efficient technologies which they can then sell to volume car makers.

    The conference was chaired by Chris Aylett, CEO of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA), who has one mission in life: to help businesses working in UK motorsport benefit from commercial opportunities. The conference showed that there are numerous business opportunities from low carbon developments in the industry.

    International business opportunities for UK motorsport

    Keynote address – International Trade and Low Carbon Innovation

    Nick Baird, UKTI

    Nick Baird from UKTI stressed the importance of exporting to help the UK economy grow, and the government has set ambitious targets to more than double the country’s exports by 2020. Businesses involved in motorsport are currently exporting very successfully, however there are still many more international opportunities, and the big emerging world markets are where the growth will be.

    The message was that the UK must continue to move away from an economy which spent huge amounts of money on public sector procurement and that relied on sectors such as financial services, and to rebalance the economy by exporting skills in which we are world-leading – such as motorsport, which is at the cutting edge of manufacturing technology. UKTI can help motorsport businesses that want to grow their international trade.

    UK motorsport is right at the top of the technology chain

    UK companies engaging in international trade and diversification in the field of High Performance Low Carbon

    Tim Routsis, Cosworth

    Peter Digby, Xtrac

    Kirsty Andrew, Williams Grand Prix Engineering                        

    Nick Baird, UKTI

    Low carbon is now making an impact in Formula 1, according to Kirsty Andrew from Williams, due to Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems, or KERS, which recovers and stores the kinetic energy in the waste heat created by the car’s braking process, converting it into power to boost acceleration. Williams developed its own flywheel-based KERS system but didn’t use it in its F1 cars, and instead developed its own electrical KERS system. In 2014 the power capacity of the KERS units will increase to balance the downsizing of engines. KERS is also likely to find its way into World Touring Cars.

    Significantly from a low carbon business opportunity point of view, the company has set up Williams Hybrid Power to sell its expertise developed in this area.

    Tim Routsis from Cosworth stressed that efficiency is the keyword, and even internal combustion engines are improving their efficiency more radically now than at any previous time.

    Peter Digby from Xtrac explained how his company provides solutions to customers’ needs to package transmissions efficiently – an example of a skill that can be transferred successfully from motorsport to the automotive industry, as cars need to get smaller and lighter.

    Summary – motorsport business international trade and diversification

    The session showed that motorsport is excellent at innovating and developing fast prototypes – skills that can be implemented in other industries. However motorsport is playing ‘catch-up’ with the automotive industry in the area of efficiency. There was also general consensus was that Formula 1 missed a trick by calling its recovery technology KERS – if it had used the term ‘hybrid’ that may have helped the average motorist relate to energy efficiency initiatives in F1 and created more interest in the sport.

    A comment from the audience was that American motorsport isn’t as receptive as Europe to low carbon initiatives; “it won’t trade in its V8s”. Our comment would be that this is also the view that the American motor industry took, resulting in it going bankrupt, whilst the Japanese car industry, which was focused in improving efficiency, enjoyed increasing worldwide success.

    The future of green technology in motorsport

    MIA Motorsport Technology Roadmap

    Steve Sapsford, Ricardo

    Steve Sapsford from Ricardo gave a presentation about the MIA Motorsport Technology Roadmap. The Automotive Council has already produced a roadmap that lays out the expected green technology that passenger cars will feature between now and 2050, and the motorsport industry has now done the same.

    The idea behind the roadmap is to inform investment decisions and to help access funds from government. Some of Steve’s observations included that battery technology is currently disappointing, and, probably related to this, that the internal combustion engine will stay around for a while yet. Vehicle weight and drag will both be areas where we will see improvements.

    Steve noted that fewer numbers of people are watching motorsport, and the audience is ageing. One way to make motorsport more engaging for a younger generation would be to stream data from the vehicles with the TV coverage.

    Motorsport and automotive low carbon technologies should be better aligned

    Discussion of the Motorsport Technology Roadmap, Automotive OEM plans and the motorsport supply chain

    Tony Harper, Automotive Council / Jaguar Cars

    Fabrice Lom, FIA

    Steve Sapsford, Ricardo

    Tony Harper, Automotive Council / Jaguar Cars

    Tony Harper, from Jaguar Cars, but also representing the Automotive Council, when commenting on the Automotive Roadmap made the point that a few years ago the emphasis was almost exclusively on electric vehicles, to the detriment of R&D on the internal combustion engine. However this has been identified, as the latest TSB collaborative R&D call specifically includes internal combustion engines. Tony saw downspeeding, downsizing and pressure charging as three key ways forward.

    Tony also highlighted that automotive CO2 regulations all around the world are starting to converge to similar levels, meaning that there is a huge opportunity for people developing technology to help car makers – could motorsport play a part in this? Small motorsport companies are ideal to quickly develop new efficient technologies which they can then sell to volume car makers.

    Fabrice Lom from the FIA responded to comments about motorsport regulations not encouraging the development of efficient technologies. The consensus was that regulations should encourage motorsport to mirror the technological developments in the automotive industry, to make the automotive-motorsport link as relevant as possible.

    DeltaWing proves that green racing cars can be twice as efficient

    2012 performance review, DeltaWing

    Ben Bowlby, DeltaWing

    Ben Bowlby, the creator of the DeltaWing concept, reminded the audience at the conference that the idea for the DeltaWing started at the 2008 MIA event. Ben, a Brit by birth, had been working in America for 20 years, using budgets of around $80 million to try and find incremental performance improvements in cars competing in American race series. At the same time motorsport audiences were getting older and declining in numbers.

    Factors such as these came together and inspired Ben to create a new racing car concept that would be dramatically more efficient, would better align with the improvements that the motor industry was making, and would appeal to a younger audience. So the DeltaWing concept was born – a racing car that was half the weight, half the drag, and that used half the fuel – yet was as fast as the other cars.

    The project progressed in a short timescale, with help from Michelin in the area of tyres, and from Nissan in the area of engines. After being rejected as too radical for IndyCar, in June 2011 the DeltaWing was granted ‘Garage 56’ for Le Mans 2012.

    The DeltaWing weighed just 492kg without fuel or driver. Its aim was to achieve double the efficiency of the other cars – which it came very close to achieving.

    The DeltaWing ran successfully in Le Mans for six hours before a Toyota crashed into it. Here’s some of the outcomes:

    • 3 min 45 sec race pace as ACO request
    • 3.6 litres petrol per lap – most efficient ever
    • Changed tyres once in 6 hours of running
    • 300bhp, 300kph
    • Racing changed people’s opinions of efficiency
    • Innovation is interesting – DeltaWing was fan’s favourite

    So what’s the future for Ben and the DeltaWing? We’ll tell you as soon as we know…

    Hydrogen fuel cell racing car to take part in Le Mans 2013

    Energy-Efficient Sports Car Racing Plans

    Ulrich Baretzky, Audi Motorsport

    Jean-Francois Weber, Green GT

    Ben Bowlby, DeltaWing

    Ulrich Baretzky from Audi Motorsport reminded us that Audi won Le Mans in a diesel in 2006 and in a diesel hybrid in 2012. He also looked forward to 2020, when carmakers in Europe need to achieve a fleet average of just 95 g/km CO2 for their vehicles – with potentially huge fines for cars that exceed the target. Le Mans could be a laboratory to explore how to make cars more efficient, giving motorsport the opportunity to show leadership in this area.

    Jean-Francois Weber from Green GT explained how he’s going to race a hydrogen fuel cell car in the 2013 Le Mans, in the same Garage 56 that the DeltaWing occupied in 2012. He said that he got the idea from the Russian space project, which used a hydrogen energy storage system. He deduced that if it was used in space it should be safe and efficient…

    Ben Bowlby observed that car marketing in America was always about a car that was bigger and heavier than the model it replaced; the DeltaWing proved that this doesn’t have to be the case. He also made the point that minimum weight regulations in motorsport are a ridiculous concept, so the rules must be changed to make motorsport more relevant to the world outside.

    A question from the audience asked if noise is important in motorsport. An answer was provided relating to TTxGP, the Electric Motorbike Grand Prix, where a rider gave a commentary during racing, which proved to be highly engaging, receiving a very positive response from the audience. This would not have been possible with a conventional petrol-powered motorbike as it would have been too noisy.

    Drayson Racing is first team to sign up to Formula E

    Electric powertrains and Formula E

    Lord Drayson, Drayson Racing Technologies and Alejandro Agag, Formula E

    Lord Paul Drayson announced that Drayson Racing Technologies would be the first team to enter Formula E, a new FIA Championship for all-electric cars.

    Qualcomm Europe will sponsor Drayson Racing over the next 18 months to promote and develop Qualcomm Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology during the launch phase of the Formula E. Qualcomm may not be a household name, even though most people are likely to have a Qualcomm chip inside their phone.

    Lord Drayson sees wireless charging as an important technology to help with the uptake of electric vehicles. It enables vehicles to be charged without a cable, either statically or on the move. This allows electric cars to have smaller batteries, which makes them lighter and more efficient. Formula E will showcase this technology, which is applicable on the road or racetrack.

    Formula E will take place in cities around the world (because EVs are intended for use in urban areas) and Lord Drayson suggested that audiences will not miss the noise of Formula 1 when they hear an electric car travelling at speeds of up to 200mph. There are also plans for a real time, online video game where people can compete with the real cars. Because of all this he expects Formula E will bring a new audience to motorsport.

    No other team has cars ready to race, so Formula E is to order 40 cars from Drayson Racing. Drayson Racing will use an electric powertrain developed by McLaren. Other teams can specify their own batteries and electric motors. In time, the hope is that other car manufacturers will join the championship.

    Formula E’s first race is 3 May 2014; location and teams will be announced soon.

    With a background as a biotech entrepreneur, as well as a government minister, Lord Drayson explained that motorsport can accelerate innovation and make green technology cool and exciting.

    Motorsport should lead from the front, but it’s not doing this – because of the regulators

    Discussion – Future for Electric and Hybrid Motorsport

    Tim Woolmer, YASA Motors

    Azhar Hussain, TTxGP

    Lord Drayson, Drayson Racing Technologies

    Tim Woolmer from YASA Motors explained how the company is producing some of the best electric motors in world, that are smaller, lighter, and so cheaper – in other words they are ideal for the automotive industry, but also for motorsport, and as a result the company has recently been asked to supply to the Drayson Racing team.

    Azhar Hussain from TTxGP, the Electric Motorbike Grand Prix, sees electric motorsport as the way forward, not because of oil running out, but because people like watching it – especially the younger generation. Azhar has a background in consumer electronics (interestingly, Qualcomm is also a consumer electronics company), and he had never been to a racetrack before he founded TTxGP.

    Lord Drayson explained the classic adoption scenario for new technology – it gets lots of hype, then low sales, then it takes off – and electric vehicles are a great example of this. However in motorsport this model doesn’t necessarily work because it is controlled by regulators. Motorsport needs to be relevant to the challenges coming in the automotive industry. It can define what is aspirational and cool, and so it should be leading from the front, but motorsport can only change at the speed of the regulators, and the world is changing at a quicker rate than the regulators.

    Lord Drayson concluded by saying that iPhone apps can tell you what the level of air pollution is where you are standing – how long will it take before hospitals correlate this information with admissions, so linking health issues such as respiratory problems with specific locations? When that happens it may just tip the balance, worldwide, in favour of electric vehicles.

    See the full article with images at

    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham