Plans For The Winter Break
Everything happened in something of a rush for this team, didn’t
it? In a few hectic weeks, Creation Autosportif raced at Jarama,
in the final race of the Le Mans Series (third in LMP1, and a guaranteed
Le Mans entry), then crossed the Atlantic for Petit Le Mans six
days later (pole and fourth in LMP1), then headed west to Laguna
Seca (second on the grid, third overall in the results - ‘best
of the rest’ behind the Audis).
Sum up those
three events then, Ian Bickerton:
a strange one at Jarama. We thought that track would be good for
us, but we couldn't cure the understeer. Nic hates understeer! We
just didn't get the set-up. Beppe and Felipe did a good job, but
Felipe and Nic had never raced there before, and Beppe last raced
there 20 years ago. Felipe was also dashing backwards and forwards
to the Ryder Cup - but we still got a result."
should have been very good for us, but we were massively disappointed
with the result. We should have been second, but we made mistakes
as a team - and then we went off on the oil. Harold did a great
job - as did Nic and Jamie of course - but I felt terrible after
that race. It took me a while to get back up again."
didn't get the pole at Laguna Seca - and I didn't mind that at all,
because we came out fighting in the race, our pit stops were very
much better, and we beat everyone except the Audis. Harold had a
really bad toothache there - and he hates going to the dentist!
He went off on the dust and was hit by the Audi - but Nic rescued
Petit to Laguna - what a rollercoaster. Now I can't wait for 2007:
the new car (see below) is going to be very good."
So what about
the team’s two chassis – and the suggestion from July
of this year that a coupe is in the wings – what’s the
Creation plan for the new year and beyond, Mike Jankowski?
“The chassis that raced at Atlanta and Laguna
Seca is coming back to our workshop in Brackley (UK, near Silverstone),
to be converted to an LMP1 hybrid: so that’s wider wheels,
bodywork changes and aero. work. The intention with that car is
to take it back to the ALMS next year.
talking to potential buyers to run in the ALMS – but we’re
also talking to Americans who want to race in Europe (which
wouldn’t be with this chassis Ed.).
“Work will start on the (Laguna Seca) chassis
as soon as it’s back here, although fabrication work is on-going
now. We need to get testing miles on the car, in Europe, before
an ALMS campaign – should that happen. We’re working
with BBS on the wheels for the car: it will run split rims, so we’re
looking at different off-sets, for example.”
We have made
various references to the ‘small wheels’ configuration
of both of Creation’s cars this year, but Mike Jankowski sums
up the problem as “we had to run harder tyres this year because
they were smaller/narrower, and they would typically only last one
stint because of the drop-off in performance. We believe that over
a whole stint, on larger rubber, the car will be three-quarters
of a second to a second faster per lap, averaged over the stint
– and then we’ll be able to double-stint the tyres too.
As you’ve seen, currently the car is as fast as anything over
one lap, even on harder tyres.”
adds that "using the small wheels was a mistake, but Michelin
really rose to the occasion. Without their help, reacting very quickly,
we'd have been stuffed."
Meanwhile, thanks to the team’s Jarama result
(and results throughout the Le Mans Series season), it has a guaranteed
entry at Le Mans next year.
got design work going on in-house," continues Mike Jankowski,
"and using external skills, with Kieron Salter involved as
well, mainly in the homologation process of the new LMP1 tub. It’s
going to be a Creation car in its design and construction. It’s
being drawn right now: we have some flexibility on the timing (because
it’s still only early November).”
And then there’s
the coupe idea – link to late-June
news item on dailysportscar.com.
to build a coupe,” explains Mike Jankowski, “but the
scale of changes, compared to an open car, are considerable. We’ve
carried out some preliminary work, and the costs are one thing –
approximately 30% higher than an open car. In the time frame, we
couldn’t design and build it before Le Mans next year –
and without a sight of any Le Mans regulations for 2010, it would
have been a big risk to go ahead now. We couldn’t risk producing
a design that we then cast aside at the end of 2009 (because it
couldn’t be adapted to the 2010 regulations).
of designing and building our 2007 (open) car will be substantial,
but not as much as a coupe. With a closed car, the tub is an even
more essential part of the design, and the roll cage and doors need
a lot of careful work. The risks (of going ahead now) were too great.”
have a coupe in 2009," adds Ian Bickerton. "We'd love
to run a coupe, and our passion is Group C cars. A car with a roof
will tick a massive box for us - but not until 2009. There aren't
any regulations available yet."
So there’s a busy ‘off-season’
ahead at Brackley – but the work doesn’t stop there.
Creation personnel will be present at a motor sport business forum
in Monaco shortly, “and we’ll be the only sportscar
team / manufacturer there,” says Mike Jankowski. “It’s
mainly a Formula 1 exercise, but the FIA GT Championship is represented
there, and A1 GP. We’re planning to present the business opportunities
in sportscar racing to potential investors and backers.”
As usual, there’s a good story to be told
at Creation Autosportif. We’ll catch up with them later this
month, at another non-racing event (this one in the UK).