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Insight into Lola Drayson all-electric prototype

Lola and Drayson Racing partnered to make an all-electric LMP car
Thursday, September 08, 2011

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Lola’s Executive Chairman, Martin Birrane, and Lord Paul Drayson first discussed the opportunity to work together on a technology project at the Autosport show in January 2010. The Lola-Drayson B12/69 EV is the product of that discussion.

In addition to their 53 years experience in Motorsport at the highest level Lola are well known as a high technology company delivering top end solutions in light weight structures for the Aerospace, Defense, Renewable and Automotive sectors. Drayson Racing has successfully pioneered green racing since 2007 experimenting with alternative fuels and carbon capture technology.

Lola and Drayson Racing Technologies teamed up in 2009 and had a successful partnership in the 2009 and 2010 American Le Mans Series and 2010 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup racing the Lola B10/60 LMP1 prototype car. Drayson finished third in last year’s series with the Lola B10/60 LMP car fitted with a unique flex fuel Judd V10 engine with Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker driving. The partnership achieved a notable first overall win for a second generation bio-ethanol fuelled race-car at the Road America ALMS race in August last year.

Robin Brundle and Lord Paul Drayson at the Cenex LCV event at Rockingham this morning

For 2011 and beyond, the all-electric LMP car will be primary focus for the partnership. The objective of this project is to construct an electric ultra high-performance vehicle based upon the current Lola LMP1 chassis. This vehicle will be used for the following purposes:

- As a technology demonstration platform for the novel technologies being developed by the project consortium.

- As a time attack car to break the lap records for electric vehicles at tracks around the world - and hence generate publicity and business opportunities for Lola, DRT and their partners. These tracks to include street, circuit and hill climbs.

- As a demonstration of the speed potential of an EV - lapping circuits faster than a current LMP1 diesel.

Our main aim is to prove that an electric powered LMP car can lap as fast, if not faster than a conventionally powered car and to show how exciting an 850 horsepower, 200 mph++ electric car is on track.

Lola and Drayson Racing will also work together to ensure that the central technical elements that form the Lola-Drayson car can be commercially applied to a variety of other applications and industries.


How are the responsibilities between the partnership split?

Lola is responsible for all aspects of the chassis and aerodynamics of the car and Drayson Racing Technologies is responsible for all aspects of the drive-train and systems integration.


How will the Lola-Drayson electric LMP work?

The Lola LMP will be powered completely by electricity stored in a new generation of highly advanced Lithium Nanophosphate® battery cells made exclusively by A123 Systems and used for the first time on the Lola-Drayson racing car. These cells are housed in a battery pack manufactured by Mavizen and these drive the four axial flux Oxford YASA motors via inverters supplied by Rhinehart. The motors generating over 850 peak horse power will power the rear wheels only, and will be producing more power than the petrol equivalent. The actual motors will be mounted in a similar place to where there the existing powerplant is located. These will be fitted to the driveshafts and the wheels will be driven in a very similar way to how they are now.

The car will not change gears, it has a single reduction gear linking the drive from the electric motors to the driveshafts. The charging will happen through a HaloIPT wireless induction system which will utilize coils within the floor of the car which will enable re-charging by the car parking over a re-charging pad.

The power that the car will have will be approximately 850 horse power. The weight of the car will be approximately 1000 kg, slightly in excess of the regular 900kgs in LMP1 presently. The overall control system for the car will be supplied by Drayson Racing Technologies working in partnership with Cosworth who supplied the original system for the 2010 LMP1 car.

In addition to the completely new electric drivetrain, the car will benefit from new aerodynamic features being developed by Lola in conjunction with BAE Systems and a new recycled carbon fiber technology developed in house by Lola.

Who is supplying the technology for the car?

Lola, Drayson, BAE Systems, Halo IPT, A123, Mavizen, YASA Motors, Rinehart, Cosworth and Multimatic are all key partners and engineering leaders within this project. Lola have worked with BAE Systems closely for ten years within the Aerospace and Defense industries.

The Drayson Lola LMP1 car is currently being built at the Lola factory being worked on by Lola, Drayson and the key partners ready for the test car runs later this year.

Are you looking for further partners or suppliers to come on board with the project?

Yes, we see this as a long term venture and we are keen to work with other partners and suppliers that share our vision of the potential benefits of applying the latest sustainable technology to achieve ultra high performance and zero emissions.


Can the car really run as fast, if not faster than a conventionally powered LMP car?

Yes. Using Lola's sophisticated simulation tools, engineers are confident that the car will be as fast, if not faster over a single lap. The immediate aim of the project is to prove this.


How will car be charged and how long will it run before it needs charging?

The car will be charged on charging pads that will be available in the pit garage. The initial target is for the car to be used for short “time attack” runs and not for racing and has been designed to optimize its “qualifying” performance.

From left to right: Back: Thomas Buckler (Cosworth) Larry Holt (Multimatic), James Baker (BAE Systems), Dick Stimpson (Halo IPT); Front: Robin Brundle (Lola Group), Lord Paul Drayson (Drayson Racing Technologies).


Will the LMP be very different mechanically?

Structurally the car from the rear bulkhead forward will look identical to the car that raced in the ALMS and at Le Mans in 2010. However, under the rear bodywork things will be very different.

Obviously there will be no exhaust pipes. The batteries and electric motors will be the main technical cluster behind the driver with power inverters and a cooling system.


What specific parts of the car will use recycled carbon fiber?

Initially the recycled bodywork parts will be non structural so for example the damper hatch or sidepods of the car. The re-used carbon fiber has to be used in a slightly different way as the fibers are shorter and are recovered after the resin is burnt away and is as a consequence a different structure.

Lola have also been working with universities to treat un-used carbon fiber that has been sourced beyond its normal shelf life but is still very much useable. From an environmental aspect this will save a massive amount of landfill for un-used and once-used carbon fiber.


What attracted Lola to building an all-electric powered LMP car?

Lola have been technology ready to build an alternative powered race car for several years. A 'green racing' cell has been especially nurtured within Lola, working with universities to work on ideas for such programs as the Lola-Drayson.

What aerodynamic features can we see on the Lola-Drayson all-electric LMP car?

Lola are currently undertaking a significant aerodynamic evaluation in its on-site state-of-the-art wind tunnel, working on a variety of Drag Reduction and moveable aero systems. Full details of these will be unveiled at the first public test of the car by the end of 2011.


What will the environmental and commercial benefits be in running all-electric race car?

It has been proved that carbon dioxide levels have risen significantly since the onset of the industrial revolution in the 19th century with a corresponding rise in global average temperatures - leading to major changes in weather patterns and sea levels.

Therefore the development of a zero emissions, clean energy, race car that pushes the performance limits of electric vehicles is both an important driver of technological innovation and of public attitudes towards EV's. We aim to show that an all-electric race car can be as cool and exciting as a conventional petrol or diesel powered racing car - and a lot kinder to the environment.

In a commercial sense we know that globally, the low-carbon and environmental goods and services sector is worth over £3.2 trillion and growing fast at approximately five per cent annually over the coming years.

EV's are expected to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the global car market and the market for batteries to power electric vehicles alone is predicted to grow to $46 billion by 2020.

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