Triple Eight using Algor to optimise BTCC Vauxhall

Triple Eight Race Engineering, which builds and operates the factory Vauxhall BTCC racecars out of Banbury, UK, is now verifying and optimising its designs using linear static stress analysis software from US company Algor in Pittsburgh, PA. The tools have been successfully used to study and improve a variety of loadbearing components on the Astra Coupe, such as the front upright and damper top mount, the upper and lower engine mounts and the front anti-roll bar blade

Triple Eight using Algor to optimise BTCC Vauxhall

"The BTCC regulations dictate that the eternal motorsport battle between weight and strength of components is more important than ever, so we're now using Algor on parts that we would never have analysed before," said Triple Eight chief designer John Morton. "In addition, our designs are driven by very challenging lead times. We can only achieve results because of the good CAD compatibility and quick, user-friendly methods that Algor provides."

Algor's 'InCAD' technology provides direct CAD/CAE data exchange and full associativity with each design change for 'Autodesk Inventor', which Morton uses when modeling the load-bearing components. "In our stress analysis work, we often need to analyse many different iterations of the same part very rapidly", said Morton. "When working with tight deadlines, the more quickly these iterations can be performed, the more optimised the part will be. The steps that Algor has made with full associativity furthers our efficiency and the final quality of each design."

The front upright must endure loads induced by lateral acceleration and inline deceleration of up to 2g. "This is arguably the most important component of the car, as it defines the front suspension geometry and the dynamic behaviour of the wheel," said Morton. "Obviously, no failure due to stress can be accepted. In addition, any deflection incurred in service is undamped and can reduce grip and controllability." FEA was used to increase the stiffness by 16 percent while adding only 4 percent more weight.

The damper top mount attaches the damper to the chassis and absorbs all of the vertical loads created by the front suspension. Morton: "It's imperative that this part is as stiff as possible as it is loaded directly by the damper and any undamped deflection will have an adverse effect on traction. It is also, of course, analysed for strength, but with a higher factor of safety to counter the effects of the oscillating load." Again, FEA was used to increase the stiffness by 3 percent while reducing the weight by 24 percent.

The upper engine mount supports the engine and gearbox assembly (weighing close to 200kg) and is subject to harsh conditions induced by acceleration because it is rigidly mounted. "This part is one of the first parts we analysed with Algor and we ended up designing it in a way that we had never thought would withstand the loads," said Morton. "As a result of design optimisation, the new upper engine mount design is significantly lighter. FEA was used to reduce the weight by 38 percent while decreasing the stiffness by only 4 percent."

The lower engine mount also supports the engine and gearbox assembly and has to withstand lateral suspension loads. Morton: "Both strength and stiffness are of utmost importance as the lateral loads from the tyre are reacted directly through this part. A well-designed lower engine mount enables the front of the racecar to absorb lateral loads with very little deflection." FEA was used to strengthen this component by 75 percent while adding only 21 percent more weight.

Unlike most other car parts, the front anti-roll bar blade is far stiffer in bending along one axis than the other, so the stiffness of the anti-roll bar assembly can be reduced with a very quick alteration. Morton: "This part is highly loaded as it transfers vertical input from the front suspension through kerb-strikes across the car." FEA was used to increase the strength of this part by 12 percent while maintaining the same weight.

Triple Eight is already planning to use additional analysis tools from Algor. "Our next ventures in analysis will include mechanical event simulation and linear dynamic analysis to enable us to analyse parts with an accurate load cycle," said Morton. "By allowing us to replicate the linkages and assemblies that contribute to the loading of each part, we hope to use these analysis tools to understand more about the dynamic behaviour of the car."

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