21 December 2007
Q&A: Christian Loriaux (Ford) - EXCLUSIVE.
It is good to have a rule change so that we have a big re-set and all the manufacturers can feel then that they can come in without being beaten by the people that have been there a long time and have a lot of experience. There is a need for a big change but I am not convinced that S2000 is the right way to go. I think we should still keep the car with the minimum of power and do a big re-set with new regulations to make the cars cheaper, but still we need to make sure that we keep them spectacular. We also need flexible enough regulations - and not so restrictive, so that every manufacturer has got a chance of making a competitive car. That is very important. With World Rally Cars we have had seven or eight manufacturers' in it and everybody has had the chance to win a rally and make a car that could win the world championship. I am not sure that this will be the case with Super 2000. That is what worries me a bit.
How easy will it be to bolt a turbo onto a S2000 car, given the FIA's thinking on the Super 2000+?
That is impossible to be honest. That is a bit of a dream for people who don't know much about engineering. When you do a Super 2000 car basically you start with a 2 litre atmospheric car. That is going to give you 300 Newton major or 400 Newton major of torque – absolute maximum, probably not 400. So you will design all of your car and your transmission to be optimised for that if you want to make a competitive S2000. The minute then you bolt a turbo on that you are going to double the torque coming out of that engine and that is why you increase the power. But if you double the torque your S2000 transmission will explode in about 2 kilometres and the same with your driveshaft and so on and so on. So all you start doing with a S2000 car in view of having a S2000 car with a turbo and having that car competitive, then in that case you make the gearbox and all transmission to live for the 400 Newton major and that will mean it will be as reliable as a S2000 with turbo. But that also means that your S2000 will be uncompetitive because its transmission will be far too heavy. I hope that is not too confusing. But that is what it is. It will be easy to do but you would have to choose which one of the version you want to make competitive and sacrifice the other one, which is not very good.
Do Super 2000 cars represent a sensible alternative for the FIA World Rally Championship or is it simply capping technology in a sport which should be driven by engineering excellence?
As I say it is good to have a big re-set. There is no harm either in trying to reduce costs but we have to do it in a sensible way and think about it very carefully. The idea of a S2000 with a turbo will work if you don't have to keep all the transmissions and so on from the [standard] S2000. It is good to have change and it is time for a change to try and attract people. Now I think we should make the minimum modifications to World Rally Cars. Some manufacturers' have just committed to making a World Rally Car, like Suzuki, and they are just coming into the sport and now they are being told maybe they are going to have to scrap their car. I think the most important thing for a championship to be successful is to have stability so that the manufacturer can make a plan and sell that plan to their board of directors. If the rules change every six months then nobody can plan and nobody will come into the sport.
What do S200 cars - and WRC technology - bring to road cars? Do you get any transfer over of technology?
It is very difficult now-a-days. You do get a transfer with some things - like the way we work on transmissions, gear change technology and gear change speed. Maybe a bit of what we develop on braking and what we use to develop on stability control as well, for the rest though it is pretty difficult. All engines are quite efficient already.
Some stuff will go back down to road cars and it does sometimes, but it is limited because all development budgets in motorsport facilities are probably a 1000 times, if not 10,000 times smaller than the development budget of a proper road car manufacturer. A road car manufacturer can spend billions let say to develop a new ABS system. Where as our budget is nowhere near that for the whole operation. Overall it is difficult today, although there are still some returns.
For the future, what do you think of the use of bio-fuels and so on? Is that the way forward?
It is a very political question. Yes we need to look at the environment and we need to make an effort and show that motorsport looks after the environment. But is bio-fuel the right thing? I don't know. When you look at the bio-fuel everybody will tell you if you look at it at a proper scale where it would make a change on the environment it is not viable because we could not supply it. So it is a bit more of a PR thing than a real solution.
I think the real solution will be more like the hybrids and things like that. What they are doing in Formula 1 allowing people to store energy and to restore it later to save fuel is interesting.
I think an interesting concept would be the one that they have got in MotoGP. Effectively there everybody is given the same fixed amount of fuel for a race and then you need to use that the most efficiently possible because obviously if you want more power you have to make it out of the same fuel and the only way to do that is to improve your efficiency. So if each team is given 'x' amount of fuel to do a rally and everybody has got the same amount that would really force people to look at efficiency and overall efficiency of the car. I think that would bring a solution that could go back into road cars and would be a clever way for the future.
How important is it for the WRC to go 'green' and embrace more environmentally friendly technology?
I am sure it is important for the WRC because it is important for everybody and the WRC cannot ignore the need of the world. We are a shop window and we are out there to demonstrate what Ford can do. At the moment we are demonstrating that Ford can do the best handling car, the fastest car and the most reliable. But as well as that we need to demonstrate that we can do something that is environmentally friendly and that can solve the petrol crisis and the pollution crisis of the future and of today.
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