The Reynard 02S / DBA / Zytek 04S Story
Zytek 04S was the only car to offer a serious challenge to Audi
supremacy at Le Mans and in the LMES in 2004. Alan Lis
spoke to Kieron Salter (right), who is a director
of the racing car design consultancy KW Motorsport, about the early
days of the project. Along with his business partner Will Phillips,
Kieron played a key role in the original design and build of the
car, when it was known as the Reynard 02S, and believes that its
challenge to the Audis might have happened sooner.
head of Special Projects at Reynard, the division that designed
and built the Reynard 2KQ and later the 02S. How did Will Phillips
“Will was brought on board in 2000, with Nigel Stroud, to
increase the technical resource for the 2KQ project, so that we
could tackle the problems with the first version of that car. Will
ran the R&D programme for the evolution of the 2KQ into the
2KQLM. Five cars ran at Le Mans in 2000 and Will race engineered
the Johansson-Matthews car himself. Further changes were introduced
for 2001 with the 01Q, but by then we were already working on the
concept of the 02S – a process that had started at Le Mans
had been learned from the design, build and running of the 2KQ and
its 01Q derivative would benefit the design of the 02S, for project
which Will was the chief designer.
“Of the nine 2KQs
built in total, two comprised a very interesting project for the
ROC team, which proposed to run them with 2-litre turbocharged Volkswagen
engines, in the LMP675 category. The 2KQ was never able to get down
to the minimum class weight of 675 kgs because it was originally
designed as an LMP900 chassis, but because it was an aerodynamically
advanced and sophisticated car, it was very successful and won the
LMP675 class in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In the first year the ROC cars
didn’t finish the race but they did qualify ahead of some
of the LMP900 runners and put the other LMP675 runners outside the
minimum qualifying time for the class, which made a few people think.
“MG then recognised
the potential (of the 675 class) and commissioned a car from Lola
that was specifically designed to fully exploit the premise that
an LMP675 car built down to the weight limit would easily be competitive
with an LMP900 car. We (Reynard) had also come to this conclusion
with the ROC project, and began laying down plans (during the 2000
Le Mans race meeting) for a purpose designed and built Reynard LMP675
chassis. However our car was not commissioned until early 2001,
by which time the MG-Lolas were already being built - and would
run at Le Mans that year.”
the 02S also designed to be used in LMP900?
for the 02S we decided to reverse the approach taken with the 2KQ,
and build an LMP675 car that could also be raced in the LMP900 class.
So with that in mind the 02S was specified to meet the LMP900 crash
test criteria. That immediately set our design team a challenge,
because the MG was being built purely as a 675 and only being crash
tested on that basis. That meant that it could benefit from having
a lighter chassis, as the crash test for that class was more lenient,
because of the lower minimum weight limit. We compromised a bit
with the 02S in having a heavier chassis, but we believed that it
would give the car a greater market in 2002. It was designed so
that a customer could put a Judd V10 in it and run it as an LMP900.
We knew that aerodynamically it was going to be far superior to
anything else available, or at least that was our intention.
“The first sketchy
wind tunnel programme for 02S began early in 2001. We went through
lots of iterations on narrower bodywork, to see if reduced frontal
area was going to be a route to take, and various bodywork configurations
to determine how the air would flow over and through the body.
“In September 2001
the first 02S chassis passed its crash tests as both an LMP675 and
LMP900 and was homologated for those classes. Then at the end of
2001 the rate of progress of the build began to slow down and on
a couple of occasions stopped altogether.”
“At that time there were still no confirmed customers, because
no one really knew what to expect of the car. The premature delivery
of the 2KQ, with its initial problems, made people nervous and gave
that car a pretty bad reputation. It hadn’t won any races
or shown any real potential. Also people were not sure what was
going to happen with the class rules in the future, and the MG-Lola
was already out in the market, had proved to be pretty successful
and had already taken some of LMP675 market. On top of all that,
Reynard as a company was really struggling at that time. The ChampCar
market, which had been such an important revenue stream in the past,
was in decline.
“So the decision
was taken to slow the build programme, with the aim of easing Reynard’s
financial commitment. The investment needed to design and build
a sports prototype is well over £1 million.
“Initially we intended
to run the first chassis in conjunction with the ROC team, using
Reynard engineers, purely as a test car to ensure that there were
no problems like those we’d had with the first 2KQ. We wanted
to make sure that the car was absolutely right before it was made
available to customers. That work was to involve a small test and
R&D programme, but at that time Reynard simply didn’t
have the money to do even that, so it never happened in the way
we intended. Instead the build of the first car continued very slowly,
until in March 2002 Reynard went into receivership.”
was the car to completion?
“At that time the first chassis was probably 75% complete:
everything was ready except the major bodywork components, which
were the last bits to be made because of the pattern making needed
for them. The crash tests had been passed, there were three complete
sets of suspension and there were gearboxes designed and manufactured.
We’d commissioned the all new gearbox from Ricardo, based
on their knowledge and experience gained from their work with Audi.
Ricardo was obviously a very good partner to be with. The Audi gearbox
is a longitudinal design, but we commissioned a transverse gearbox
for the 02S. It was a fully pneumatic paddle shift unit, that was
both light in weight and capable of accepting the power and torque
of an LMP900 engine. At that time only the Audi R8s were using a
pneumatic shift system.”
If I recall
correctly the 02S project was offered for sale as a separate entity?
right and fortunately, soon after Reynard went into receivership,
the 02S project was purchased by a company called International
Racing Management. They completed the build of the first car, with
the assistance of Zytek. Myself and Will were retained by IRM to
see the project through to the completion of the first chassis,
so we continued to work out of part of the old Reynard factory in
2002 we were able to resume building the car, whereas before we
had been doing so with the same group of engineers who had been
involved before Reynard called in the receivers. We did the final
engineering and design work that was needed, coordinated the build,
finished off the pattern work and built the car, all in a fairly
short period of time.
Was it always
intended that the first car would have a Zytek engine?
“The original 02S was to have been a Lehmann Volkswagen-engined
car for ROC, but that never happened either, as ROC had problems
of its own and didn’t appear to have VW’s full support.
We were also working on designing an engine installation for an
all new four cylinder turbocharged engine that was being built by
another manufacturer, specifically for the 02S. That had some interesting
features that would have allowed the car to have a very low rear
the MG, the 02S had been designed from the outset as a customer
car, one that was able to accept a range of different engines, provided
they were racing engines. A large undeveloped stock block V8 would
have been a problem, but anything from a turbocharged four cylinder
engine up to a V10 engine would have been possible, with minor bodywork
changes. That meant that it was easy to fit the Zytek V8. Bill Gibson,
who owns Zytek, had been in contact with us at Reynard for quite
some time during the 02S project. We knew he had what was potentially
a very good engine, and he could see the potential of the 02S. When
the Lehmann VW deal fell through we started installation work on
the 3.4-litre Zytek V8. Of course, with Zytek’s increased
input into the 02S project after Reynard went into receivership,
we were obviously going to continue with that installation for the
complete car was shaken down on September 19 2002, then inspected
by the ACO. We did static testing and rig testing overnight, before
it did a track test at Snetterton. From there it went to Japan and
then directly to Atlanta, where it was entered in the Petit Le Mans
on October 12. Before that race it had about half a day of reasonable
testing, but at Road Atlanta it performed well and everyone was
quite happy with it. The car demonstrated that it had enormous aerodynamic
advantage over other cars. In that race it was running as an LMP675,
so the air restrictors on the engine meant that it did have as much
power as the Audis, and it was also on narrower Dunlop tyres, not
the wider LMP 900 Michelins. Having said that, the Dunlop tyres
worked really well with the car in Atlanta and we were right on
the pace. The car was able to show that it had potential. It wasn’t
reliable enough at that time to finish the race, but in the rain
with Casper Elgard, who hadn’t driven much in practice, the
car was the fastest on the track.
the car was very simple: a water pipe cracked, a part worth just
a few pounds, but it was enough to put the car out of the race.
That was unfortunate but the potential of the car was proven, and
John Nielsen went on to run the car, renamed as the DBA 03S, with
success in the FIA Championship in 2003. Unfortunately we didn’t
have the opportunity to run a car in the ALMS for a full season.
Racing Management still own the car design?
“Yes they do but they didn’t - and still don’t
- have a facility for manufacturing or engineering. IRM own the
project and as I understand it have a technical partnership with
Zytek, which was licensed to build the two Zytek 04S derivative
cars that have raced this year.
you feel that the design is now fulfilling its potential?
“Yes, the three teams that have been running the cars have
done a fantastic job. But I can’t help thinking that if the
Reynard 02S had been raced and developed through 2002, it could
have offered a real challenge to the Audis in 2002 and 2003, as
well as 2004 and beyond. Of course that’s impossible to prove,
but I believe it’s one of the best sportscars designed to,
what are now, the old sportscar regulations. It was the last car
completed that was designed to those regulations and its performances
in 2004 as the Zytek 04S and the DBA 03S prove that it would have
been the fastest customer car available.
we could have finished the car and completed the test programme
as planned in 2001, it could have raced throughout 2002 and 2003.
I suspect if we had been able to do that, there would be a lot more
of them being raced today, and perhaps the Audis would not be as
is there are three racing, or able to race, now. The original DBA
is owned by Creation Sportif, there’s the factory Zytek car
and the second car built by Zytek for Jota. I really believe that
the car could have changed people’s expectations of LMP675s.”
completion of the 02S project for IRM, KWM has been involved with
the development of the first LMP1 regulation chassis, the Nasamax
DM139 - and now its development for 2005.