Build of Chevrolet World Touring Car on Schedule
First Lacetti will hit the track early January 2005
WELLINGBOROUGH, 6 December 2004 - Build of the three Chevrolet Lacetti World Touring Cars, to be entered by Chevrolet Europe in next year's World Touring Car Championship, is continuing at a steady pace at RML in Wellingborough, Great Britain.
Drivers Alain Menu from Switzerland, Nicola Larini from Italy and Rob Huff from Great Britain, will get the chance to start testing the Lacetti for the first time in Spain in early January 2005. Thus ends the first stage of Chevrolet's new World Touring Car programme which had started with an initial evaluation in April 2004, followed by the start of the design process in August 2004.
"With the Chevrolet Lacetti we have had no particular technical hurdles to overcome, as the production car provides a very good basis to start from. The engine, chassis and suspension layout of the Lacetti all fit well with the Super 2000 regulations," Ray Mallock, Chief Executive of RML, said. "We have also been working closely with the FIA to ensure that we fully utilise the freedoms allowed under the regulations and to ensure the Lacetti can be competitive against the current, and any future participants in the WTCC."
With the touring car regulations being quite strict it is up to the engineers to consider every possible idea that might give a small advantage over the competition. "The Super 2000 regulations do not provide a huge amount of scope for development from the standard production car," Mallock continued. "We have studied the regulations carefully and co-operated with the FIA where necessary to ensure that we can maximise the cars potential whilst remaining within the regulations. During the season the team will concentrate on developing the set-up and tuning of the suspension and aerodynamics which will include work on dampers, springs, roll bars and differentials. Engine development will of course also continue throughout the season."
"But even with the strict regulations, our engineers will be very busy as I'm sure will be our competitors'. It also has to be said that the regulations are very fair. If anyone does have an advantage there is a provision in the regulations for the newly formed WTC Bureau to adjust the weights and thereby the performance of the cars."
Although aerodynamically there is little room to play with, the engineers at RML already spent a substantial amount of time in the windtunnel and will continue to do so throughout the season. "All competitors will have a common rear wing. To balance this we are allowed to develop a deeper front bumper with an 80mm minimum ride height. Body changes can be made to accommodate the wider track but these areas should not be used to gain aerodynamic advantage," Mallock explained.
Chassis 1 and 2 will commence testing in early February, while chassis 3 will join the other cars in March. Each car takes some 300 hours to build in a process which starts with a bare shell. The roll cage is fitted to the shell, after which it is painted. Next come the main pipework and wiring looms, fitting of the engine and gearbox followed by the suspension. After the radiator and interior fixtures are installed, the body panels are added to be shell, the braking system is bled and the livery put on. With wheels and the geometry set on the flat patch the car is ready to go testing.
As the date of the shake down of the test car approaches fast, excitement is building within GM DAT. "This is a first for us, and I can honestly say that we are all very excited about the programme," said Stephen Clark, Managing Director Product Engineering of GM DAT in South Korea. "It is the first time any Korean brand will be represented at a world championship level, so I'm particularly proud that it is GM DAT that will accomplish this fact next spring. With the team and drivers we have in place I'm sure success will come our way before the end of the season."
Newly appointed Chevrolet Europe Motorsport Manager, Eric Nève, agreed: "Less than half a year ago this was a project that only existed on paper, but now that the test cars are being built you can't help but feel excited. To be represented in a brand new World Championship is very important for Chevrolet, as this classic brand has been successful in every motorsports discipline it ever competed in. On Chevrolet's world map of motorsports successes classic names like Daytona, Le Mans, Sebring, Pike's Peak or Indianapolis are already printed in bold. We hope that with the three-year Lacetti World Touring Car programme we can add other historic and legendary names like Monza, Spa or Macau."