It’s a landmark weekend for the American Le Mans Series at the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix. The next wave of energy technology has arrived with Corsa Motorsports’ Ginetta-Zytek 09HS hybrid prototype for LMP1, which has Johnny Mowlem and Stefan Johansson sharing driving duties. Some of the key players involved from the team, Zytek Engineering, the American Le Mans Series, and IMSA and the U.S. Department of Energy spoke on the significance and relevance of bringing such a technological advancement to the race track.
Bill Gibson, President, Zytek Group “We originally did a hybrid project for Don Panoz 11 years ago now. The big difference between that car and this car is the battery. The one in the Q9 was 250 kilos. The battery in this car, you can look inside of the car and see that it’s a tiny thing. This project is about developing the battery. The motor and electronics are in many ways road car pieces. The batteries are a huge problem for hybrids and pure EV (electric vehicles), which is what Zytek’s future is in. And in my mind, future road car technology is pure EV. And at the moment we can use hybrids to develop these new technologies for pure electric vehicles. This car is about developing battery technologies – pushing and pulling the energy so fast, maybe 10 or 20 times faster than the process in road cars.
Steve Pruitt, Corsa Motorsports owner “When we decided to do this project, there was a lot of talk about the price of barrels of oil – approaching $140. We’re racers and we want to be on the top step of the podium. We think we have the technology to get us there, but how long that will take is a little unknown. We’re learning some things. The car is very top-heavy, something that you don’t see with other race cars. This a great weekend to test the car and see what we have before we go forward.”
Tim Mayer, Chief Operating Officer, IMSA/American Le Mans Series “The American Le Mans Series tries to capture one word: relevance. Racing originally was all about exploring what you could do with road-going technologies, and we have come back full circle to that theory. Racing ought to be relevant to the consumer. Part of that right now is about energy, and that is the biggest challenge in the automotive sector. To us, relevance is all about diversity. There is no one single solution out there to the energy problems, and anyone who tells you differently doesn’t know the industry. The three different fuels we have (E10, cellulosic E85 and clean diesel) are consumer technologies; you can buy any of these at a gas station. Now there is another solution that we are bringing, and this is (next generation) hybrid technology. For us, it’s about using clean technologies and using different energy sources. Electricity is an extremely important part.”
Lee Slezak, Manager of Vehicle Technology Analysis and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Energy “We are working on some of the energy issues facing the nation today. We need creative solutions from all areas in the transportation sector. Hybridization is one of them. The reason we are supporting this is that it’s such a creative aspect of developing new technologies in a research and development setting. We are looking to have these technologies not just on the track in one of the harshest environments around but passing them on to manufacturers as quickly as possible so consumers around the country can benefit. We also see this as a great opportunity to educate consumers on alternative energies.”
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