Utah Miller Motorsports Park news 2009-05-04

Revolutionary Hybrid-Powered Prototype to Debut in Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (May 4, 2009) -- History will be made in next weekend's Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park,...

Revolutionary Hybrid-Powered Prototype to Debut in Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix

TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (May 4, 2009) -- History will be made in next weekend's Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park, thanks to a team based in Salt Lake City.

Corsa Motorsports, owned by Steve and Tere Pruitt of Sandy, Utah, is introducing the world's first ethanol/electric hybrid sports prototype to be campaigned on a full-time basis. The car is a Ginetta-Zytek GZ09-SH, and it will race in the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series.

The GZ09-SH is based on a carbon fiber/aluminum monocoque employing typical wishbone suspension with rack-and-pinion steering and fitted with a Ricardo six-speed sequential gearbox using a electronic gear shift system. The car will be powered through a combination of an ethanol-fueled internal combustion engine and a three-phase induction electric motor.

The ethanol-fueled engine is a newly designed normally-aspirated Zytek 4.5-liter V8 with four overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder with an output of 625 hp. The electric motor is a direct-drive proprietary design powered by an onboard lithium-ion energy storage system with a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS).

The No. 48 Corsa Motorsports Ginetta-Zytek GZ09-SH represents the cutting edge of technology in the emerging world of the electrification of transportation. The KERS captures the kinetic energy of motion usually dispelled as thermal energy under braking and converts it to electrical energy stored in the onboard lithium-ion battery system. An electric motor capable of producing 35kw of additional power is fitted to the input shaft of the gearbox. When there is need for additional power, the stored energy is released from the battery via a push-button on the steering wheel, traveling through an inverter that changes the current from DC to AC powering the electric motor. Although the technology is in its infancy, it is believed that the system upon maturity can produce better power, fuel efficiency and a lower carbon footprint.

For the American Le Mans Series, the global leader in green racing, the Corsa Motorsports Ginetta-Zytek GZ09-SH is a very important addition.

"We have said for some time that our platform, which encourages manufacturers to develop new technologies and relevant automotive innovation, is ideally suited for the challenges the auto industry faces," said ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton. "And as concerns over oil, energy and climate change continue to play prominently in headlines around the world, here is an example that offers a practical, real-world advancement that will be tested and developed in the most extreme environment in the world. Zytek and Corsa Motorsports deserve admiration and applause for taking this tremendous step in bringing another alternative power source into the American Le Mans Series.

"Zytek is well known within the motorsports industry for its race-winning prototype cars and engines. However, what most are not aware of is that Zytek is a world leader in gas-electric hybrid technologies for road cars. In fact, many of the largest auto manufacturers are utilizing Zytek hybrid technology in their road car applications. The Zytek/Corsa hybrid LMP1 car represents the cutting edge of hybrid development, with technologies being developed on the race car that will soon be transferred to the road cars of tomorrow."

Corsa Motorsports formerly campaigned a Ferrari F430GT in the GT2 class of ALMS and raced the Zytek without the KERS system in two races at the end of last season, with a best finish of third place in the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The team's new car represents a double-edged challenge, with implications both on the racetrack and in society as a whole.

"I am truly excited about this opportunity," said Steve Pruitt. "Not simply because Zytek constructs one of the best Le Mans prototype cars, but because of the technological relevance this car represents as society looks to the world's need for global energy reform. The hybrid system is untried in the harsh conditions of endurance racing. If it proves successful, it will transcend motorsports by its social and technical relevance. Bringing such technology forward in a safe, reliable and competitive manner is a true challenge. Our excitement is bolstered by the fact that ALMS -- the only remaining non-spec series -- actively promotes the development and use of such technologies, confirming its position as the most relevant series in motorsports. As society begs for changes in energy consumption and carbon footprints, Corsa is pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of the research and development of this technology which will one day find itself beneficial to everyday lives outside of motorsport."

The team's drivers are renowned professionals in the truest sense of the world. Swede Stefan Johansson is a veteran of Formula 1 and CART and has driven for some of the world's top teams, including Ferrari and McLaren. Brit Johnny Mowlem has an extensive career in all forms of sports car racing. Mowlem notes that the significance of bringing hybrid technology into the American Le Mans Series cannot be understated.

"I think when you look around at the world we're living in, you can see that we are getting closer and closer to the need to find an alternative source of energy, and notice it as being on the top of most governmental and corporate wish lists," he said. "I feel that hybrid and KERS technology is probably just one step on the road toward totally electric-powered vehicles. Being at the forefront of introducing this technology into what is a real high-pressure and evolutionary environment like the American Le Mans Series, it is a very proud moment for me. Although I obviously want to be competitive and win races, I also recognize that there is a bigger picture for the Corsa Motorsports team and that we are involved in something that down the line could be revolutionary for motorsports in general."

All progress is governed by the tenets of "risk versus reward." Steve and Tere Pruitt have taken a big risk in bringing this ground-breaking technology into the American Le Mans Series. It will be a monumental challenge to optimize and perfect the hybrid system in such an extreme environment, not to mention the prospect of making the car competitive and fighting for race wins. If they succeed, however, the reward will not only be enjoyed by themselves and the team, but will be shared with all of society.

The fourth annual Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix will take place over the weekend of May 15-17, 2009. In addition to the headlining American Le Mans Series race, other racing series taking part in the weekend include the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda, Formula BMW Americas, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup, the STAR Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, the Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama and the IMSA Lites presented by Frisby Performance Tire. For ticket information, visit www.MMPTix.com.

For more information on Corsa Motorsports, visit the team's website at www.CorsaMotorsports.com.

-credit: mmp

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Johnny Mowlem