ProTran At Brooklands (2) – The Detail
It was the perfect setting for the first look at the almost-all-new
ProTran RS06/H – and blessed with almost perfect weather too:
a bright, early-March day, although the air temperature wasn't much
above freezing. The UK's snow was further north.
Paul Cope himself chose Brooklands, which is conveniently
‘just up the road’ from what has been the ProTran’s
base for the last months ie. Lester Ray’s Ripley workshop.
It was a chance for the press to come and see the car, but more
important than that, it was an opportunity for the ACO’s M.
Daniel Perdrix to examine the RS06/H – an important part of
the homologation process, ahead of the car receiving its ACO stamp
of approval in its logbook.
M. Perdrix has been in England for much of this
week, checking out other new prototypes.
the images suggest, the ProTran looks fabulous in its ‘Jaguar
Racing Green’. The colour was Paul Cope’s choice, and
what a good choice it was.
The car isn’t quite ready to go, “but
we should be running at the end of next week,” says the car
Why have you undertaken this project then, Paul
“Quite simply, it’s my passion. Brooklands
sums up the spirit of British motor sport, and we’ve been
looking to do something like this for a long time. The hybrid rules
certainly helped us in making it possible to do it, and I’ve
got some dedicated and committed people around me who have brought
us this far.”
Lester Ray’s role has changed a little over
the months, but he adds that “we couldn’t have taken
on producing a whole new car, because so much of the work would
have had to have been contracted out.”
“It would have been a mountain to climb,”
adds Paul Cope.
Ray was originally tasked with a development of the Reynard 2KQ
chassis (#009) as an LMP2 hybrid, but that plan was changed because
“an LMP2 needs to be very clean aerodynamically, because it
has less power than an LMP1. Going the LMP1 route means that the
roll hoop (of the Reynard) is less of a problem.”
If there’s a slight aerodynamic disadvantage
with this chassis, compared to brand new LMP1 cars, that should
be partially offset by the car’s state of the art AER 3.6
litre twin turbo V8. Dyson Racing is well into its testing programme
with its AER-powered Lolas, and there will be advantages to other
AER customers as the miles add up.
But Lester Ray’s role has changed a little
as the project has evolved, for reasons that Daniel Perdrix was
happy to explain.
“We have to be sure that cars are safe to
race at Le Mans, where the speeds are so high, so we insist that
the manufacturer is represented in any development of one of their
chassis. Kieron (Salter) was part of the Reynard team that was responsible
for this car, so we needed him to be involved with this project.”
And Paul Cope has been delighted to have the former
Reynard man involved.
While we had M. Perdrix’s attention, it was
a good chance to ask him about another aspect of the current hybrid
phase of the LM prototypes.
Can manufacturers build new tubs and convert them
into hybrids, or does the wording of the regulations indicate that
only existing tubs can be converted into hybrids?
“No, there is nothing in the regulations to
stop a manufacturer from building a new tub and making that into
a hybrid (this year). After all, what would a team do if they had
a crash and destroyed their chassis? They would need a new one so
that they could carry on racing.”
Back to the ProTran then, and Kieron Salter’s
Lester Ray: “There are certain areas on the
strictly engineering side that Kieron isn’t involved with.
I’ve been responsible for the engine installation, from a
practical and technical point of view, while Kieron has had more
of an overall view of the project.”
Bluntly, that seems to mean that Lester gets his
hands dirty, while Kieron doesn’t!
“Once we go racing, my role will be part of
a joint operation between my workshop and Paul’s new base
at Byfleet,” adds Lester Ray.
So with a few details to be finished over the next
few days, the ProTran RS06/H should be hitting the ground under
its own power “by the end of next week”.
Cope – a lawyer by profession – can’t wait to
get behind the wheel of his “passion”. He’s brought
former GT racing partner Glenn Dudley in as team manager, and by
the end of March, this spirited team will be testing at Paul Ricard,
and preparing to head off to Istanbul, for the first round of the
2006 Le Mans Series.
There are more details to be sorted out in the next
few weeks, not least being Cope’s partners behind the wheel.
March 2 became
an even more enjoyable day for dsc’s Editor, with a quick
glance at Concorde G-BBDG, a chance to look at the famous old banking
at Brooklands – plus the opportunity to capture the image
you’ve already seen, of Paul Cope and Lester Ray with the
RS06/H, with a Harrier behind, and the nose of the Concorde poking
into the viewfinder.
is pre-production Concorde #202, which last flew in 1981. It was
stored at Filton as a supply of spares for the BA fleet, and was
brought to Brooklands last year in component form, by road. The
talented Brooklands engineers, all volunteers, are gradually putting
it back together, and it will be housed in a new building, along
with other examples of flying machines that were built (or in the
case of Concorde, components were built) here: a VC10, a BAC 1-11,
a Vanguard and a Viscount.
The spirit of
aviation and motor sport live on in this part of Surrey, and we
look forward to seeing the ProTran go racing, and the Concorde fully
restored. There's a lot of the Brooklands spirit tied up in both
projects - and both have a French connection, of course.