Multimatic Motorsports has conducted an initial aerodynamic evaluation test of its Mazda DPi RT24-P race car at the Catesby Tunnel in Northamptonshire, UK, which is owned by Aero Research Partners (ARP).
The facility was originally a dual-rail Victorian railway tunnel but has now been given a second lease of life as a state-of-the-art aerodynamic vehicle testing facility, following a multi-million-pound refurbishment.
The full correlation check of the Mazda DPi RT24-P race car consisted of running the vehicle down the perfectly straight 2.7km-long tunnel at speeds of up to 193km/h.
Results gathered during the tests were then compared with data gathered during previous 40% scale and full-size wind tunnel testing. Computational fluid dynamics development data and data from five years of racing in IMSA’s top-level championship were also compared. Multimatic Motorsports announced that there was a high level of correlation to the vehicle’s existing performance data.
“Compared to conventional wind tunnels, this is better because it’s real,” said Larry Holt, Multimatic Motorsports’ founder. “In a moving ground plane wind tunnel, the car is stationary and the wind is blown over it by a massive fan and flow conditioning setup, and a belt is arranged to move under the car at a coordinated speed. It’s a very sophisticated configuration but the car is still stationary and that constitutes the not totally real piece. What Catesby facilitates is the measurement of the aerodynamic performance of a vehicle actually moving through the real world.”
Holt continued, “The problem with a car moving through the real world is that it is subjected to influences like gusting wind, rain and other changing environmental conditions that affect air density; all of the variables that come with testing in the real world. Catesby provides the real world without the weather. You have a moving car, a real road surface, a controlled environment and we can run 24 hours a day, whatever the season. It is a perfect 2.7km of controlled atmosphere. That’s the kind of consistency you need when you are chasing incremental gains.”
“When you’ve been a racing driver for as long as I have, you don’t often get to experience anything new,” said Andy Priaulx, the driver for Multimatic Motorsports. “When it comes to pure aerodynamic testing, I’m used to engineers studying static car models in wind tunnels with no involvement from the drivers. At the start, it felt a little odd to jump into a race car and drive flat out through a 2.7km tunnel, but the team assured me that the end was very clearly marked! Catesby Tunnel is an incredible facility and it doesn’t surprise me at all to know that Multimatic chose to be an early adopter and primary client of the facility.”