Team Nasamax will hope to demonstrate to the world that renewable fuels can compete in the high technology arena of international motorsport, as it enters the world's first such fuelled prototype for the Le Mans 24 Hours race in June.

The team, a core of experienced scientific and racing personnel, is the combination of 18 months co-operation and research into energy-efficient green technologies. A Reynard LMP 900 fuelled by bio-ethanol in the premier class will race at the Sebring 12 Hours in March and the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. This is the first renewably fuelled sports racing car to be entered into a premier world class motorsport event.

Nasamax has two main development partners - Applied Sciences Technologies [ASTEK], which specialises in energy production from renewable fuel sources and the production of the fuel, and Cosworth Racing, owned by Ford and renowned for Formula One engine development for teams such as Jaguar and Jordan. Cosworth has developed a 2.65-litre V8 turbo-charged engine - the XDE - specifically for this programme - and exclusively for Team Nasamax.

Renewable fuels, such as the chosen Bio-Ethanol to be used by Team Nasamax is produced from agricultural produce, thus eliminating the release of carbon dioxide [CO2] into the atmosphere. Equipped with ASTEK technology and know-how, the team hopes that, while cutting the amount of normal exhaust pollutants into the air, it will still produce power at the levels that it needs to compete effectively against some of the best fossil-fuel powered sportscars in the world.

A unique feature is the ASTEK-developed automatic nitrogen blanketing system [NBS] which prevents fuel tank explosions, significantly increasing safety. This system is similar to those used in commercial aircraft.

Testing of both car and engine continued at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit on 1-2 February, with Romain Dumas - a successful Le Mans, F3 and F3000 driver - and sportscar veteran Robbie Stirling at the wheel.

Although the first day fell victim to heavy snow on Saturday, the car ran without problem for 85 laps on Sunday, despite freezing temperatures and heavy rain. Both Stirling and Dumas were on hand to take the car through its paces in its first test, with the Frenchman particularly impressed with its performance.

"We did lots of laps and the car felt really good," Dumas who recently tested with Renault's F1 team, revealed, "It's great working with Cosworth, and they have been here all weekend with us. The car felt good, the grip was incredible. It's a big surprise for me after the F3000 and GT cars. We are all really pleased."

The team will test again before leaving for Sebring - but plans to run further south, away from the bad weather currently sweeping northern Europe.

"We need the dry weather testing," admitted technical and renewables consultant John McNeil, "There are some aerodynamic revisions to test, plus a continuation of the development work on the Cosworth engine."

The Sebring 12 Hours kicks off the American Le Mans Series on 15 March.

 

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