Motorsport: Hot under the bonnet

By Eric Thompson

The V8 SuperTourer cars have been experiencing cooling issues when under close race conditions. Photo / Supplied
The V8 SuperTourer cars have been experiencing cooling issues when under close race conditions. Photo / Supplied

After starting with a hiss and a roar at the opening round of the fledgling V8 SuperTourer series at Hampton Downs, the category has been experiencing a few growing pains.

With little or no empirical testing, especially under race conditions, a number of glitches have arisen over the three rounds held so far. Chief among them is the widely reported cooling issue when the cars are under close race conditions - mainly when the front of the car is up the exhaust of another.

The problem came to a head when the Melbourne Performance Centre Motorsport-run Supercheap Auto Racing team and Knight Motorsport suffered overheating in practice at Manfeild. The issues forced MPCM to withdraw on Saturday morning.

There seems to be differing views on the cause of the overheating problem and modifications have been made to the cars already. Bonnet vents were introduced for the Ruapuna round and a new sump baffle kit implemented at Manfeild.

MPCM co-owner Paul Ceprnich wasn't convinced about the changes for Manfeild and withdrew the cars driven by Scott McLaughlin and Geoff Emery. Ceprnich's company Pace Innovations designed and built the cars on behalf of the series and thinks the problem lies somewhere else.

"It's my belief that the current cooling package is not sufficient," he said. "Without us changing anything to cure the problem, it seemed pointless to us, even if we could put new engines in, to run them in the same spec because that wouldn't stop any damage from happening."

Someone who also has a long and successful involvement in motorsport has his own thoughts about a possible solution.

Paul Manuell has been pounding tin-tops around racetracks for about 16 years and knows a thing or two about how engines work.

"At our own expense [Eastern Automotive Performance Centre], and it's cost thousands, we put a whole new PWR cooling system into the car and it dropped 20 degrees," said Manuell. "We ran my SuperTourer behind Murph's [Greg Murphy] car and never saw any temperatures over 100 degrees under extreme racing conditions.

"We've had the PWR New Zealand agency for 12 years and we know cooling. PWR have won just about every world championship there is.

"We've solved the cooling problem and I've sent a report, with data, off to the category organisers, but they're procrastinating about doing anything about it.

"It's really frustrating as the cars are so close to being perfect. It's a great formula and the racing is excellent."

V8 SuperTourers series organisers will undertake a mid-season recall of each team's engines to solve any issues concerning the teams before the start of the first endurance race of the season in September. As reported on speedcafe.com, the organisers also mentioned that upgrading the radiator package will be one of several options looked at.

"When the cars get right up behind each other some of the teams have been experiencing high water temperatures," said V8 SuperTourers CEO Paul Radisich. "The technical delegates of the category have been working with the teams to fix the problem.

"You've got 20 competitive teams who want everything perfect and this is all part of growing something that's new. The point is that everyone is working towards improving some of the small issues we have."

On a positive note, congratulations have to go to Ceprnich at Pace Innovations on the build quality of the chassis, highlighted in Colin Corkery's big crash. "It's never nice to see a big accident and I was very happy to see him [Corkery] walk away from that accident," said Ceprnich. "It was a good thing on our behalf that the car stood up to such a heavy accident."

International Motorsport's Jonny Reid leads the 2012 V8 SuperTourers points standings after three of seven rounds, with fellow Ford driver John McIntyre 88 points adrift in second and Kayne Scott in third a further 286 points back.

- NZ Herald

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