Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

How data plays a role in every area of modern motorsport

Promoted: Data — its collection and transfer — is one of the cornerstones of modern motorsport. It is a powerful tool in the search for on-track performance and plays a key role in strategy.

Autosport Business

Covering industry news and insight into the business of motorsport

But its importance stretches beyond the pursuit of victory. The real-time link between the cars on track and the banks of computer screens scrutinised by the teams and race officials has a part to play in ensuring that the racing is both safe and fair. Nowhere is that more the case than in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Each and every car in the field, both the LMDhs competing in the GTP class and, from this season, the GT3 machinery that makes up the two GT Daytona categories, carries an important piece of equipment supplied by Bosch Motorsport. Its LTE 65 4G-based real-time telemetry system is the conduit through which the sensor-laden modern racing car sends information back to the pits and up to race control.

It is “a pipeline of data”, says Bosch connectivity engineer Robert Webster. “When there is data being written on the logger, there is also data being sent through this device,” he continues. “Through our Cloud system we are able to bring that data to multiple locations, such as here to our trailer in the paddock for IMSA and Bosch to monitor their systems, as well as to the teams for their telemetry feed.”

The Bosch system employs the public cellular network, which has done away with the need to set up radio masts at the tracks. But this more effective method — “the cell network is better than something we would spend three days building,” says Jordan Krell, Bosch connectivity engineer — does come with its challenges, especially as sportscar racing continues to boom in North America and around the world.

“We do have an elevated level of service, but at the end of the day the LTE network wireless frequency in the air is a coveted resource,” says Webster. “One thing that can affect it is certainly the fan load. It is the best thing for the sport to have more spectators, but it does present a challenge.

“Every time we make an advance, they sell 10,000 tickets, which makes our life a little more difficult,” adds Krell.

Among Bosch’s responsibilities is ensuring that the data is being transmitted correctly. So important is the transfer of data in motorsport today that it needs to be equitable across the grid. “We generally monitor car by car to understand which cars are having the best performance with throughput into the entire ecosystem,” says Webster. Bosch uses frequency diagnostics to ensure fairness.

The upload of data into the Cloud allows an engineer anywhere in the world to play a role in fine-tuning the set-up of a car so long as they have the necessary internet connection.

“My coolest story comes from when they were shaking down one of the cars in Europe for the first time in GTP and the engineer had to fly home early,” says Krell. “He was over the Atlantic looking at the ‘telem’ data and communicating with the team on what to do with the car.”

But it isn’t just the engineers who benefit from the data transferred by Bosch’s LTE 65. The data it provides is an important mechanism used by the drivers.

“Our system is fairly simple with five or six channels: we have speed, throttle and brake traces, steering angle and the like,” says Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura driver Jordan Taylor. “Those are the key ones for a driver. You see so much from those.

“If I finish a session in which I’ve encountered some oversteer, more perhaps than in the previous session, I can look at the data and see if my steering inputs are a bit more or less aggressive. It means I can confirm what I’m feeling in the car.”

Data also allows a driver to learn from what his team-mate is doing out on the circuit.

“It’s a great tool,” says General Motors driver Earl Bamber, who is part of the Corvette Racing GTD Pro line-up for the IMSA endurance rounds this season. “When you get really good at interpreting it, you can look at the data trace and copy what your team-mate is doing.”

The data transferred from each car — including from the scrutineering loggers that, among other things, monitor the power output of each car — is key to the smooth running of each and every event. The days of IMSA officials sitting in race control and looking out the window to keep track of the race are long gone. Now their focus is on the banks of computer and TV screens taken to every race. Continuity is key so that the race can run its course both fairly and safely.

“We transport our system to every race: we use it at the 100-minute Long Beach race and at the 24-hour race at Daytona,” says Mark Raffauf, IMSA’s senior director of race operations and series platforms. “Every time it is the same people using the same system.”

Safety is paramount in the modern era of high-tech hybrid LMDh machinery.

“I run a dashboard showing the live status of all the hybrid cars, both their 12-volt and high-voltage systems,” says Raffauf. “So if there is an accident, I can tell the safety crews if the car is safe to touch before they even arrive on the scene.

“The first thing is safety, the second is fairness.”

Advertisement

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article The challenges and opportunities facing gearbox manufacturing
Next article Why drivers aren’t exempt from harnessing AI’s advantages

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe