MIRA Developed Honda Civics Dominate the 2012 British Touring Car Championship

Honda Civics swept the board during the final round of the 2012 British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch, with Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden and Andrew Jordan finishing off their seasons in style by winning this year’s Drivers’ Championship and the Independent Drivers’ Championship respectively. The climax of the season also saw the Honda Yuasa team walk away with the 2012 Teams’ Championship title, whilst the Team Dynamics backed outfit of Pirtek Racing rounded off a long and hard fought season by winning the highly contested 2012 Independent Teams’ Championship.

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A major contributing factor towards the success of the 2012 BTCC Honda Civic was input from world renowned vehicle engineering consultancy MIRA. For over five years MIRA’s engineering experts have worked closely alongside Team Dynamics to develop some of the best touring cars that the sport has ever seen.

This season MIRA carried out a comprehensive range of aerodynamic design and optimisation, chassis development and roll cage certification work on the Civic, with the aim of producing a third successive Teams’ Championship winning vehicle.

As the sole provider of roll cage approval via simulation in the UK, MIRA has carried out FIA approved ROPS (Roll Over Protection System) design, simulation and physical test work on Team Dynamics’ championship winning Honda Civic touring cars since 2005. Before the start of the 2012 season, MIRA’s specialist certification engineers conducted simulation testing on the 2012 car, which involved building a finite element (FE) model from supplied CAD data before carrying out testing to FIA Article 253.

MIRA’s vehicle dynamicists were also consulted by Team Dynamics in the build-up to the 2012 BTCC season. By utilising the only twin axle kinematics and compliance (K&C) testing facility in the UK – the same rig used by eight of the current Formula 1 teams – the 2012 BTCC Champions were able to benefit from a full suite of K&C testing over a two day period. By working closely with team engineers and technicians, MIRA’s highly experienced staff carried out a variety of standard and fully customised suspension tests to a set of exacting standards. This involved altering the configuration of a variety of components on the vehicle in order to measure their contribution to overall performance and determining the range of K&C characteristics available to them.

“Team Dynamics were the first race team to test with the K&C Facility in 2012, beating all the F1 teams to the mark.”

commented Simon Aldworth, a consultant with over seventeen years’ experience of working in vehicle dynamics at MIRA.

“The car was a marked improvement on previous touring cars. Team Dynamics have a firm understanding of K&C testing which enabled a great deal of progress to be made quickly. Data was analysed throughout the test so we could respond to the characteristics measured, producing a deeper understanding of the suspension and chassis.”

The aerodynamic performance of the 2012 Honda Civic BTCC car was another key element to the teams’ success this year. With a combined total of over sixty five years’ experience in aerodynamic analysis, test and development, MIRA’s CFD analysis engineers worked closely with Team Dynamic’s design team, modelling a number of aero concepts. These included studies of the front bumper and cooling air intake, rear wing, wheel arches and vehicle pitch. By using highly specialised yet cost-effective test facilities and analysis tools such as MIRA’s full scale wind tunnel and OpenFOAM – a relatively new ‘open-source’ solver; embraced by the likes of VW/Audi that enables complex models to be analysed quickly and with minimal software cost – Team Dynamics were able to optimise drag and lift coefficients. This enabled them to arrive at the best possible combination of aerodynamic efficiency and vehicle handling.

Speaking about MIRA’s aerodynamic testing and development capability, Martin Jones – Manager of Fluids Engineering, who himself has spent over eighteen years working in MIRA’s aero-thermal engineering team, commented;

“Integration of CFD analysis with full-scale wind tunnel test and validation work represents an excellent contemporary approach to race car aerodynamic performance development. The benefits offered by the two complementary techniques enable the quick and informed decision making essential to motorsports teams working under extraordinary timing constraints.”

Peter Crolla – Team Manager at Team Dynamics said;

“The relationship between Team Dynamics and MIRA has gone from strength to strength over the years that the two companies have been working together. There was a lot of interaction between the organisations during the design and development of the Honda Civic NGTC and as a result we’ve delivered a very comprehensive package. The evidence of this can be seen from the Honda Yuasa Racing Team winning the Drivers’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles and our customer team Pirtek Racing winning the Independent Teams’ and Drivers’ titles.

“There are plans in place to further develop the car over the winter and the aim will obviously be to do the same again in 2013.”