Monday, August 9, 2010

Libra Racing: ALMS Mid Ohio Report...

As usual in racing things did not go as planned for a race team entering its first event in anger...

The VK45 V8 powered, Radical chassis looks bad-ass on the track and hopefully one day it will perform up to its image. This weekend? Not so much.

The vehicle had an OK couple of practice sessions, running slower than they thought the setup might but with no major issues to speak of. Come Saturday, raceday, it was a different story. The official press release on the team results is below but as added info I have talked briefly with IES Racing's Dale-Jones Graham who had a major hand in the engine build and found out a bit more regarding the powerplant and the weekend itself--Graham states that the engine itself is derived from the standard block and heads of the VK45 along with some other castings but the rest are all inhouse racing parts from IES. His comments on the weekend results (a DNF after 44 laps) are as follows:

In the race, we had an oil cooler leak, this lead to some oil surge and at the first stop we could see the oil pressure starting to drop, rather than just putting oil in, we decided discression was better.

We were slower than we expected, our only real yardstick is the GT2 class, The LMP cars had all been given more power for the weekend and the LMP1 class have much larger restrictors than Europe.

If I compare the time that Radical achieve in Europe, we should have been at about 1.15/1.16 in qualifying.

I think we have a bit to do on both chassis and engine.

The full specs and details on the engine are thus:

IES have developed the new LMP2 engine from an engine from the Nissan VK family. The VK family have an excellent pedigree and have been and are widely used in motorsport, initially in the Indy Lights class in the USA and now in the Japanese GT championship and FIA GT1.

Naturally Aspirated Engine

We have decided on a Naturally Aspirated engine it will be much simpler to run than a turbo engine should not need continual track support.


With the ACO 40mm restrictor, the power is as predicted by the ACO, 450HP at a relatively low engine speed, 7500 rpm. With this as maximum rpm, the desired 30hr rebuild interval will be achievable.


4.0 lt V8

Bore 93.0 mm

Stroke 73.5 mm

Length 575 mm

Width (across heads) 600 mm

Height (under side of sump – top of plenum) 560 mm

C/l crank shaft – underside of sump 102 mm

Dry sump 5 stage pump – pressure + 4 scavenge

Clutch 5 1/2 inch carbon

LMP2 class – 40 mm restrictor

Power--torque 500 Nm @ 6000 rpm, 450 HP @ 7500 rpm

Weight 145 Kg. (dry, ex clutch & exhaust)


Engine control Pectel SQ6M

Wiring harness Fully sheathed – Military spec.


New Engines

A complete engine ready to install in the vehicle, complete with the engine wiring harness and Electronic Control Unit is £49,500.


Rebuild interval +/– 30hr. Approximately £18k/rebuild.


We can supply full 3D CAD models for installation purposes in Solidworks format.

I'll let the official team presser take it from here:

Libra Racing’s debut entry in the American Le Mans Series met with mixed results at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge on Saturday. A strong opening stint by former Indy Lights ace Andrew Prendeville set the stage for a solid fourth-in-class finish until a sudden loss in oil pressure on the 44th lap forced the Libra Racing Radical SR9 into the garage.

“The car felt good and handled well. It came [up to speed] quickly and was definitely faster than the LMPC cars for the first 2-3 laps.”

Cars in the LMPC category, short for Le Mans Prototype Challenge, were allowed a horsepower advantage to keep ahead of the Ferraris, BMWs, and Corvettes of the GT class. Libra Racing’s entry, built to the specification of the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans Prototype 2 category, was given no such advantage, and it was up to Columbus, Ohio native Prendeville to keep ahead of the leading GT cars.

“I knew we were running fairly well, but it was all about Risi, running ahead and staying out of the way, driving as hard as I can,” said Prendeville.

The GT Ferraris of Team Risi passed Prendeville at the start, when he was blocked by a string of slow-starting LMPC cars, but he powered past by lap 10, and was able to stay ahead. Although Libra’s Nissan-powered Radical was marginally quicker than the GT cars, it was over three seconds per lap off the pace of the torquey LMPC cars.

“We were a little surprised that the Formula Le Mans cars had been given a power break,” lamented Ian Dawson, Libra Racing’s Team Principle, “But I think we were comfortable where we were. Andrew drove great. He gave space to the Ferraris and in traffic he got himself clear. He drove to bring the car home at a pace where we were not straining anything. We just retired with a loss of oil

Since there was no driver change during the first pit stop, Prendeville’s teammate and Le Mans winner Chris Buncombe missed a chance to pilot the Radical SR9 around Mid-Ohio. “I feel sorry we couldn’t get Chris in the car,” said Dawson after the race. “We have to see if we can get Chris back involved.”

Despite the unexpected mechanical failure, the Libra Racing team remains upbeat, focused, and realistic about its goals. “We need to finish a race,” said a composed Prendeville after the retirement. “The fact that we got to run today was a first step. Finishing races is our goal.” The possibility of a top-five finish in class is well within reach, says Dawson. “We had a trouble-free practice at a difficult track with a first-time engine. We had the pace to stay ahead of the GT cars, we had a good stop, and were running fourth in class and eighth overall. Our target was the top ten.”

As the only new prototype entry in the American Le Mans Series for 2011, Libra has started with a combination of personnel and equipment that they can progress with. “This is a project,” explained Dawson, “Finishing is the important thing. At Elkhart we hope to have a little more pace.”

The black and yellow-liveried Libra Racing Radical SR9 with its production Nissan V8 powerplant will rejoin the American Le Mans Series at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on August 22nd.

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