CHAMPCAR/CART: This Week in Ford Racing June 15, 1999

This Week in Ford Racing June 15, 1999 FedEx CART Series Drivability - An adjective used to describe the nature of power delivery of a modern CART Champ Car engine. Engine driveability has become more of an issue in CART racing as ...

This Week in Ford Racing June 15, 1999

FedEx CART Series

Drivability - An adjective used to describe the nature of power delivery of a modern CART Champ Car engine.

Engine driveability has become more of an issue in CART racing as rules makers, in an attempt to slow cars down, are using aerodynamic changes that reduce the downforce. Those changes reduce the inherent grip of a Champ Car, which in turn, emphasizes the importance of transferring power down smoothly to get the most out of the grip available.

Ford-Cosworth engineers have made their number one priority this season to further enhance the driveability of the race-winning 1999 Ford-Cosworth Champ Car engine. With the increased level of cooperation ushered in by Ford's purchase of long-time racing partner Cosworth Racing last October, Cosworth engineers have had tools at their disposal which previously had been unavailable to them.

One such tool paying immediate dividends is Ford's Transient Dynamometer in Dearborn, Mich. Recent testing using the Transient Dyno showed Ford and Cosworth engineers an area of the engine that could be tapped to increase the power transfer and throttle response, or driveability, of the '99 Ford-Cosworth engine.

The timing couldn't have been better for such a discovery as the Ford Champ Car teams prepare to embark on schedule that sees 10 of the remaining 13 races contested on either permanent road courses or tight temporary street courses.

Jay O'Connell, Ford Racing's CART program manager, Ian Bisco of Cosworth Racing and Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth driver Adrian Fernandez discuss the background behind this improvement, and how these enhancements will propel Ford and Cosworth to the top of the podium.

JAY O'CONNELL - Ford Racing CART Program Manager - THE USE OF THINGS SUCH AS THE TRANSIENT DYNO IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE UNABATED COOPERATION BETWEEN FORD AND COSWORTH RACING. WHAT IS A TRANSIENT DYNO AND WHAT ARE ITS BENEFITS IN DEVELOPING AND REFINING A RACE ENGINE? "The Transient Dyno at Ford allows engineers to accurately duplicate the conditions that the engine sees at a street course. In other words, it can control the acceleration of the engine given any parameters that engineers wish to input. For instance, we can run the engine from a low RPM to red line in the same manner in which the engine would see exiting a low speed turn."

WHAT TYPE OF DRIVER WILL THESE IMPROVEMENTS HELP THE MOST? "I think it will be our drivers who use the throttle to steer and have a tendency to finesse the car. The drivers that are adjusting the position of the car in the turns with small changes in pedal position will appreciate the improvements more than the drivers who use the throttle as more of an on/off switch."

WHAT WILL FORD-COSWORTH DRIVERS' FEEL THE MOST WITH THESE ENGINE IMPROVEMENTS? "No longer will they feel a delay in the engine response when they tip into the throttle coming out of a turn. We have been able to eliminate the delay so that the engine response is more immediate. The driver will know where he is with the engine all the way out of the turn instead of having to wait for the engine to catch up."

YOU WERE AT THE MID-OHIO TEST LAST WEEK WHERE MANY OF THESE ENGINE IMPROVEMENTS WERE TESTED FOR THE FIRST TIME. WHAT WAS THE DRIVERS' RESPONSE? "The drivers felt that the engine was smoother and easier to drive out of the corners. These improvements in the engine are also going to help tire wear as the smoother you can apply the power the less wheel spin you are going to have."

IAN BISCO - Vice President, Cosworth Racing - THE FORD AND COSWORTH RELATIONSHIP CONTINUES TO EVOLVE AND STRENGTHEN. THE USE OF FORD'S TRANSIENT DYNO TO ENHANCE THE PERFORMANCE OF THE '99 FORD-COSWORTH CHAMP CAR ENGINE IS BUT ONE EXAMPLE OF HOW THIS RELATIONSHIP IS STRENGTHENING FORD'S RACING PROGRAM . . . "I would say that Ford and Cosworth have definitely grown together in the last couple of months. We are finding that Ford's vast technical resources and Cosworth's engineering expertise are complimenting each other very well."

TURNING TO THE FORD-COSWORTH CHAMP CAR PROGRAM. HAS THE FOCUS OF ENGINE PERFORMANCE AND DRIVER NEEDS CHANGED? IF SO, HOW ARE THESE NEW RESOURCES WITHIN FORD HELPING YOU TO STAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE SO TO SAY? "The way I look at it at the moment you can keep adding and adding horsepower, but that is not going to cut it anymore. It's widely recognized up and down pit road that the Ford-Cosworth engine has the most horsepower. However, due to restrictions on tire size, downforce and the use of different wing configurations that we have now, makes it more important to control the power that the engine is putting out. There is more of an accent on power control and power delivery than there had been in the past. From my point of view this is one area that the Transient Dyno can be a real help. It allows us to accurately simulate race conditions and respond to them now."

COSWORTH HAS BEEN WORKING ON THE DRIVEABILITY OF THE ENGINE THROUGHOUT HE WINTER. HOWEVER, YOU HAVE MADE SOME GREAT STRIDES WITHIN THE LAST MONTH. WHAT IS IT YOU FOUND? "We made a lot of performance gains in the engine over the winter. We expected to apply these changes with more success than we had at Long Beach, however, Long Beach showed us that we had extra power but we didn't necessarily have the control we wanted to with the extra power we created. Since then we went back and reevaluated what we learned from Long Beach and ran the engine parameters that were giving us difficulty on the Transient Dyno. That test pinpointed the areas we could improve that would allow us to give our drivers better control. Now we are implementing those findings and the changes that are accompanying them for Portland and the other road and street courses to come. We feel these improvements will be an even greater asset on tight street courses such as Toronto and Detroit. Further benefits to the improved power management would be enhanced control in the rain and in the closing stages of the race when tracks typically become more slippery."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ -40- Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth - WITH THE VERY DEMANDING ROAD COURSE PORTION OF THE 1999 FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SCHEDULE KICKING OFF THIS WEEKEND IN PORTLAND, HOW DO YOU ASSESS YOUR ODDS? "I am really looking forward to the road courses. Especially after the recent improvements the Ford-Cosworth engineers have made to the engine. Ford and Cosworth have been working very hard on the engine side and I think the improvements they have made in driveability will be a benefit to all of the Ford drivers, especially on the road courses. It is something that we have been working on and asking for and they have really stepped up and delivered. I am looking forward to running the improvements at Portland."

WHERE WILL YOU NOTICE THE ENGINE CHANGES MOST? "Coming out of slow corners. You won't be able to feel the changes going through fast corners but coming out of slow corners is when you will be able to notice the improvements."

YOU TESTED THE CHANGES THAT THE COSWORTH ENGINEERS IMPLEMENTED TO THE ENGINE AT MID-OHIO LAST WEEK. HOW DID THAT TEST GO? "We found a lot of good things. It was a very informative test session. We learned things about the car that can not only be used in Mid-Ohio when we go back but in Portland this weekend. We managed to improve our time from qualifying last year but more importantly we were consistent with those times. And what was even more exciting was that we did all of that in the '97 Reynard and not in the new '99 we have for this weekend. The engine was a big part of the gains we made. It helped the overall performance of the car though the Mid-Ohio course."

DRIVEABILITY IS GOING TO BE SOMETHING THAT IS TALKED ABOUT THROUGHOUT THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON. CAN YOU DESCRIBE TO PEOPLE THAT MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH DRIVEABILITY EXACTLY WHAT IT IS AND IT IS SO IMPORTANT . . . "It is like trying to drive a five-speed Ford Mustang, for instance. Instead of trying to leave in first gear you take off in second because you don't want to spin the tires. When you take off in second you have to use a lot more throttle to get the car going. When you try to put the power down the car doesn't respond right away, there is a bit of a lag there. So, you apply more throttle which helps the car respond better, but at the same time you don't want to use too much power. You want to be able to feather the power in on some places and be smoother but sometimes, in the past, you couldn't because the power comes in more drastically. You want the throttle response to be like a street car. You want it to take off smooth and that is what the Ford guys have really refined with the engine. We can now put down the power the engine makes much smoother."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez