Bob Riley On His Riley Mk.XlV
Wittenberg spent some time with Bob Riley at the recent
Watkins Glen Grand Am meeting – discussing the new Riley LMP
car. “We learn so much so fast that the only really interesting
car is the next one," says the President of Riley Technologies
(on the www.rileyscott.com
Riley and I finished discussing the DP and tomorrow’s Watkins
Glen race, I asked if we could review the new Le Mans Prototype.
Both Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor had already checked in during
our conversation - to let Bill know they were ready to talk race
strategy for tomorrow’s event. Not wanting to ignore his drivers
any longer, Bill suggested that I really should to talk with his
father, Bob Riley, about the LMP as Bob has been exclusively handling
the design work for it. No sooner did the words leave his mouth,
than the trailer door behind me flew open and in came the elder
Riley, seeking air conditioned relief from the heat wave that besieged
upstate New York that weekend. Bill expressed my interest in the
LMP to Bob and then excused himself to tend to his anxious drivers.
The elder Riley gladly took over the conversation, and over the
next hour, methodically described his latest design from front to
rear. I was quite content to listen and learn, as I was taken on
an interesting and educational tour around the new American prototype
in this business is invaluable. You do look at previous designs
to get a baseline and ideas, but also to avoid things that didn’t
work. But when doing a new design you want a reach, or something
new and unique to this particular design. For this project we actually
had pictures of nearly all prototypes over the last few years cut
out and pasted on a board. So you are always looking for ideas and
things you might be able to use. The Bentley is obviously the most
recent and successful closed top car and that in particular gave
us a clue on how big to make the roll hoop/cockpit area.
do a sketch and Travis Jacobsen transfers them to the CAD. The released
drawing is the actual design from our CAD and shows the car in Le
nose is raised because the rules require a higher impact point for
the crash structure. The brake ducts were located in the nose in
lieu of the traditional position in the front panels, between the
nose and wheel arch. This placement should benefit from the positive
pressure here, but should not adversely affect the downforce.
the center of the splitter must also be raised. The air that will
collect under this part of the splitter needs a way out, so we have
it exiting behind the front wheels, through louver vents in the
designed in a shelf along the bottom edge of the sidepods; this
should get a little positive pressure to help when the car is in
yaw. The ridge or shelf continues up the leading edge of the rear
wheel arch, and should help with some downforce.
at the top of nose and center of windshield is for driver cooling.
Again the base of the windshield is a point of positive pressure.
shape for the roof of the cockpit is actually an airfoil. Basically
we took a section through an aircraft wing, and rotated it length
wise to fit the shape of the car.
fiber will be wholly used in the construction of the tub. It’s
really the only option to maintain the low weight and meet the new
crash standards. For instance, the impact load that the roof or
roll structure must withstand is 17,000 lbs. The impact area is
located across the roof, right in front of the driver’s head.
17,000 lbs. is an incredibly high number to achieve, so the load
must be dispersed from the roll structure down through the side
pods and tub. It would take a lot of heavy steel to meet that load
exhaust is center of the rear deck, at the end of the roof pod,
for two reasons. As the car moves it directs the air around each
side of the cockpit. This creates a vacuum or empty space right
behind the cockpit, over the rear deck. That vacuum negatively affects
the air that is flowing past the cockpit. The engine exhaust here
should help to fill that void, making the airflow cleaner and denser,
creating downforce on the rear deck without increasing the drag.
Locating the engine exhaust there also keeps from having to route
the exhaust pipes around the rear wheel suspension. This will keep
unwanted heat from the pipes away from the suspension and makes
this area easier to work on.
have designed the rear deck as low as possible for less drag. Once
again this drawing represents Le Mans configuration, so for a track
like Mid-Ohio we would add a flap across the back to generate more
design we decided to bring the rear wheel arches to a point in the
back, in an effort to reduce drag and direct air to the sides of
the arch. Air over the top of the arch creates lift, which is not
good. The end plates are regulated by rule to a minimum size and
we elected not to connect them to the wheel arch, allowing air to
tuck in between and flow through. At higher downforce tracks, we
could have a revised rear deck in which the endplates do connect.
that wasn’t released in rendering form was a view of the rear.
We still have some details to work out around the taillights and
back of the car (the drawing was available for viewing for this
meeting). The new rules have set a specific design for the undertray
and length of rear overhang. This rule should help the smaller manufacturers
like us. The undertray is an area in the past where the larger budget
manufacturers have spent a lot of money to gain an advantage.
pretty far along with the design and have already been talking with
the people at Langley about doing the CFD work. This would be the
next step and it will help us locate some vents, possibly on the
rear deck, for the engine bay, and the size and placement of the
wheel arch vents. Following the CFD work the design would be finalized
and ready for production.
also probably do a ¼” scale model, to review the bodywork
to make sure it’s smooth and fits properly. Also it is desirable
to have a model for the customer to see. Although we have found
that scale models don’t represent the car properly in the
wind tunnel and that the CFD work does a better job of that.
this car we will use the best possible parts right from the start:
sometimes in the past we were not able to do that.
had a lot of interest in the car so far. Obviously we would like
to sell some to customers of course, but we are also looking to
find a sponsor or a partner so that we can run a car ourselves.
We want to win Le Mans overall, and that’s the bottom line.”
looking towards competing at Le Mans, or either of the Le Mans based
series, in 2006, the Riley Mk.XIV must be seriously considered.
We just witnessed an American team win the famed race: could it
be an American-made prototype that claims the prize next year?