February 3, 2017

What does it feel like to drive Mount Panorama?

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Sadly, I can't tell you from personal experience but there is nothing like a properly mounted helmet camera to put you in the driver's seat.

You are riding with Christopher Mies in and Audi R8 LMS during the 2016 Liquid Moly Bathurst 12 Hour week end.  Turn up the volume.

The ideal placement for a POV camera is as close to eye level and as centered as possible but, unfortunately, there are no perfect mounting solutions out there at the moment.   There are accessories for other positions but, mounting the camera on the side of the helmet doesn't look right, on top is too high and on the chin bar,  too low.

The best spot for a POV camera is on top of the visor in the middle.    Marshall Pruett came up with this placement and method, aided by abundant gaffer's tape to produce the great POV videos that occasionally appear on Racer's web site.

Incredibly, nobody has yet stepped up with a proper mount for this location without having a big contraption sticking out from your helmet.  
I've used a modified version of Marshall's mounting technique involving 3M Dual Lock tape and the GoPro upside down to line up the lens  even more.   Obviously this is particular setup is adapter for a closed car where you might keep your visor open and not ideal if you need to close it.

Perhaps someone out there knows of a better way or might like to step up and design something that will work better because this IS the sweet spot for in car POV shots.

January 30, 2017

You be the steward: 2017 Rolex Daytona 24, Taylor vs Albuquerque

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The final hour of the 2017 Rolex 24 hours of Daytona was certainly exciting but controversial.

With about eight minutes to go, Ricky Taylor nerfed fellow Cadillac driver Felipe Albuquerque and took over the lead for the eventual win when race control declined to intervene.

Predictably, reactions were split between the "rubbings racing" group and the "rules say" crowd.

There are no perfect views of the incident but let's take a look at what we do have.

Here is the (partial) view from Ricky Taylor's car

Looks fairly clear cut from this view,  there was a tiny gap and Taylor dived in.

Now, let's look from the outside.

Less clear cut from here,  Albuquerque takes a more "normal" line and does leave a gap.

Clearly  Taylor is nowhere near being far enough along side to "own" the line and from the expression on Wayne Taylor's face I'm guessing he agreed.
On the other hand, the argument that Albuquerque did not realize Taylor was there is not that plausible either, not with the tracking radar rear view screens they all have onboard.
That you will be passed because someone is under you in turn one is not a given:

That the stewards did not want to be picking the winner is understandable:  final laps of a 24 hour race  plagued by long yellow flag periods but also marked by a "let them race" attitude from race control (an earlier almost identical contact between the leading Risi Ferrari and the winning Ford GT also went unchallenged,  as did a wonky restart by Albuquerque).    A penalty would have meant denying Wayne Taylor Racing yet another win, never mind keeping a Rolex from NASCAR's own Jeff Gordon.    Many will suspect it might have been a different decision had the roles been reversed of if different manufacturers had been involved.

But that's neither here nor there.   The last two hours of the race were a treat to watch,  GTLM had four of the five manufacturers, Ford, Ferrari, Corvette and Porsche all within 5 seconds on track.  It was anyone's race,  brilliant stuff.

Check out Patrick Pilet in the Porsche Cayman 911 RSR chasing Dirk Müller,  doing turn one defense  properly in the Ford GT

Great stuff

January 23, 2017

End of an era.

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It's not like you didn't know it was coming, sooner or later, but it's still a bit of a shock.

Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed his exit from an executive position in Formula 1.

Ecclestone has been blamed for pretty much everything wrong with F1 and people have been calling for his head for decades but will the sport automatically get better without him?

Herding cats is never easy.

Cheers Mr E. and thanks for the good bits.

A Distinguished Lecture.

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Do you think aerodynamics are not that important at a slow track like Monaco?
Even at 70 km/h (43 mph), an F1 car can corner 8% faster with aero than without.

Next time you hear an announcer telling you how teams are trying to eliminate drag from their car, consider that if you simulate a car with zero drag. the lap time gained would be only two seconds but an F1 car without downforce will be 21 seconds a lap slower at the Circuit de Catalunya than one with downforce and drag .... 21 seconds!
No wonder Red Bulls often had the slowest in top speed but the fastest lap time: being fast in the corners is much more of a factor to lap time than being fast on the straight on many circuits.

Willem Toet is a Dutch-Australian aerodynamicist with a past in Benetton and Ferrari in the Schumacher era and later BAR and BMW Sauber.

It's not often we get insight from engineers and insiders and Mr Toet is particularly generous with it.  His LinkedIn page is a bit of a treasure trove of technical insight which, like this lecture are a must for any racing fan who wants to go beyond the basic understanding of Formula 1.

Find the time to listen to this lecture he gave at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.    It focuses on past F1 seasons but there are concepts that apply to the coming championship and the effect rule changes might have.

I guarantee it will help you discuss the sport in a more informed way.

Bonus points, Mr Toet hillclimbs a formula car (with great aero presumably!).

January 20, 2017

Dying for a YouTube video.

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A bad start for the 2017 Montecarlo Rally.

It was the debut of a new formula: faster, more exciting looking cars designed to put some shine on a series that has floundered of recent.    The new cars are not like, but are designed to recall, the glorious and insane Group B cars from the 1980's.

On the very first Special Stage of the rally, Hyundai's Hayden Paddon hit a patch of black ice and slam into a rock wall, flipping over.
Paddon and his co-driver are fine, but a spectator on the road is struck and would later die.

Predictably there has been much handwringing about this.  On the Axis Facebook page, accusation were thrown of "not respecting the motorsport community" for discussing the event.

Not respecting the motorsport community?  Really?

So let's hear the testimony of an eyewitness,  reported initially by the Belgian site DH

" We were just ten meters away on the special stage and had seen this guy putting his GoPro on the road and then sit just one meter away on the embankment.
We yelled at him not to stand there, we figured he would realize it was a bad place after one or two cars went by.
Paddon came by and slid sideways... the man was hit and thrown up the slope and fell down onto the road.
A fireman gave him CPR but it was clear right away there was little he could do.  It took a long time for the ambulance to get there but it would not have made a difference.
It's sad, especially because people will say these cars are dangerous, like in the Group B era, and this has nothing to do with it.  It was just the bad luck of a driver on a patch of black ice"

Ironically, the article was later edited to, you guessed it, blame the now faster more powerful 2017 WRC cars.  Because you certainly can't blame the stupidity of a victim who chose to risk his life standing in an area  forbidden by organizers and that simple logic should tell you is very dangerous.

"He was someone's son, husband, father".   wailed some on the internet.  

Well, most people are and I'm sorry to be harsh but I feel about the same level of sympathy as I do for those who get gored in Pamplona.

I do feel terrible for Hayden Paddon and for Team Hyundai who have zero fault here but will have to bear the brunt of another man's irresponsible behavior .   I feel bad for WRC organizers who will be inevitably blamed for the 20 minute wait for the ambulance and for "not protecting the public".

Respecting the motorsport community means spectators, like drivers, have to use their brains take responsibility for there actions.

Pretending it's about anything else helps nobody.

December 23, 2016

NASCAR comes to ice racing: Merry Christmas!

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Ancient Yuletide carols were trolled at the alpine resort of Alpe d'Huez recently when one racer tried to deck a fellow competitor.

It happened in the midst of an Andros Trophy ice buggy race when fifty year old Olivier Panis, a Grand Prix driver know mostly for crashing and one lucky win,  did not accept being shoved into hay bales as a Christmas greeting.

The well wisher was 25 year old Adrien Tambay, son Patrick, the 1980's Ferrari (and Beatrice Hass) driver.

Oo-la-la, Oooh-pop-pop-pop....   C'est d'homage.

A Gallic version NASCAR ensued.... unfortunately, unlike les amis Americain,  French tv cut away just when it was getting good.

Ah,  Christmas ....   Axis of Oversteer wishes you a merrier one.

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