Feb 10, 2016
Rüsselsheim. The Opel Astra TCR development program is going at full speed. Last week, the new customer racing touring car built in accordance with the TCR (Touring Car Racing Series) regulations covered countless kilometers over five test days on the Circuito do Estoril in Portugal. “It was a very good test,” says Opel Motorsport Director Jörg Schrott. “The timeline is still very tight, but we are on schedule. The Astra TCR ran reliably at the last test drives in Zandvoort and Estoril, it’s performing well. Now we’re working on fine-tuning details before the first vehicles are delivered to our customer teams at the end of February.” The Opel Astra TCR makes it public premiere at the Geneva Motor Show (March 3 – 13, 2016).
Opel Motorsport Technical Director Dietmar Metrich and the team at Opel development partner Kissling Motorsport paid special attention to the front axle’s sophisticated concept. “On a racing car with around 330 hp and front-wheel drive, this is a key component. All the longitudinal and lateral forces of a TCR car, so in addition to braking and steering this also means acceleration, affect the front wheels,” explains Dietmar Metrich. “And this is not only about the lap times, it is also about tire wear. So whoever has a car with a well-performing front axle has a clear advantage in tough competition. And because the front-wheel suspension pivot point is not specified in the TCR guidelines, we have some leeway in the design of the front axle.”
During the last test drives, the technicians concentrated on the basic setup to draw out the Astra TCR’s maximum performance. This is in line with Dietmar Metrich’s credo: “It’s always easier to make a fast racing car solid than to make a solid one fast. But ultimately the best of both has to be at hand.” What is extremely important in the process is the meticulous balancing of the mechanical grip of the chassis and wheels as well as the aerodynamic grip, which is mainly created by the rear wing and front splitter. Both give the racing car fast and easy-to-drive handling. The racing car driver’s information on the car’s driving behavior is as significant as the lap times. Finely tuned vehicle balance is also especially important for brake performance. The Astra TCR’s brake system from the renowned manufacturer AP enables extremely late braking points. This is ensured by 378 mm brake discs and six-piston brake calipers at the front along with 265 mm brake discs and two-piston brake calipers at the back. The driver can modulate the braking balance from the cockpit.
The Astra TCR is also top in terms of dynamic strength. The sequential, six-speed racing transmission operated by a paddle shift located on the steering wheel from the French specialists Sadev works without difficulty. And the four-cylinder, two-liter turbocharged engine with two overhead camshafts and multi-point injection has already proved its strength and endurance in long-distance events. The 16-valve 330 hp unit with maximum torque of around 420 Nm also delivers impressive figures in its TCR trim. In this case it is boundaries set by the guidelines that limit the engine’s potential performance.
The key concept here is “Balance of Performance”. To ensure that every automaker – regardless of the technical basis of their production series platform – can bring a competitive racing car to the racetrack while also putting an end to cost-intensive technical spin-off pursuits, the regulation guardians balance the racing cars using a tried and tested system. The two “Balance of Performance” adjustment points in the TCR are engine performance and weight, whereby the engine performance is controlled via electronics or so-called mapping. The TCR guidelines thus enable exciting customer racing with maximum cost control.
“We still have lots of work ahead of us before our TCR debut,” says Jörg Schrott. “But I’m already looking forward to the coming season. The TCR is exactly what the teams and fans want. Thrilling, breathtakingly close motorsport featuring cars the spectators can identify with – this approach is a surefire success.”
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