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From: Dan Dubrick
To: All
Date: 2003-06-20 00:39:00
Subject: 6\18 ESA - Space tech keeps Pescarolo on track at Le Mans

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European Space Agency

Press Release

Space tech keeps Pescarolo on track at Le Mans

18 June 2003
Pescarolo Sport's use of ESA technology in their two racing cars
shaved crucial seconds off every lap at last weekend's Le Mans
marathon 24-hour race, helping to place them into the top ten out of
50 competitors. 
Pescarolo driver Frank Lagorce expressed his satisfaction with the
race and his car, No. 17: "it was much better this year than last
year. The car was much lighter." ESA technologies within the vehicles
improved safety while cutting down the weight. Their bodies included
composite materials used in ESA's satellite structures. Insulation
materials were also applied from Ariane, the European launcher,
improving safety in several crucial areas on the car. For more
details on ESA technologies used by Pescarolo see "Space tech
onboard" link, to the right. 

Andre de Cortanze, Technical Director of Pescarolo Sport team, said
"It is basically the same car as last year, but with improved
performance. With the space materials from ESA, we saved about 30 kg
on the body. This enabled us to locate weight optimally for better
overall handling. On a four km test-circuit, we gained one second
with the 30 kg lighter car. The Le Mans is 13 km so overall we gained
4.25 seconds per lap." Pescarolo Sport director Henri Pescarolo
added: "We had the objective to get both our cars to reach the
finishing line and we succeeded. We were very happy to make it into
the top ten." 

The race started on Saturday 14 June at 16:00 and what turned out to
be the final two winning cars from Bentley - car No.7 and No.8 -
immediately jumped into the top five. Along with the Bentleys and the
two Audis (cars No. 5 and No. 6) Pescarolo's two cars - No.17 and No.
18 - zoomed into the first ten, and held this position for the most
of the race. Only three small incidents stopped them from getting any

There was a tense moment at 18:30 when suddenly the brake pedal went
right to the floor for driver Stephane Sarrazin in Pescarolo car No.
17. After some investigation it turned out to be a fluid leak at the
right front wheel, a problem never experienced before, solved by an
11-minute repair.

The second alarm went off at midnight, this time for the other
Pescarolo car - No.18 - driven by Nicolas Minassian who had to return
to the pit with a flat tire, losing nine minutes. 

At 04:00 early Sunday morning cars 18 and 17 held the eighth and
ninth places, always keeping in contact with the race leaders. They
even managed to improve their position early Sunday morning: at 08:00
they held the sixth and seventh places.

Unfortunately, at the end of the 299th lap, a little before 11:00,
the sudden rupture of a part in No. 18's left suspension put that at
risk. Some 23 minutes in the pit box for a change of suspension and
body parts set back the car into a ninth position. 

The two Pescarolo cars ended the race in eighth and ninth positions.

ESA space tech used in many endurance races
Last January another of Pescarolo's cars competing in the Dakar Rally
made use of ESA technology. The technologies were similar to some of
the ones used in this year's Le Mans race: cooling systems for
exhaust, manifold and turbos. Cooled helmets and refreshed drinks
planned for 2004's Le Mans were already successfully tested during
Dakar 2003. 

Discussions are currently taking place between ESA's Technology
Transfer Programme and the world champions of the World Rally
Championship (WRC), Peugeot Sport, to define which space technologies
could be provided to improve Peugeot rally cars. 

"We are currently world champions in the World Rally Championship
(WRC). We have been world champion for three years in a row, 2000,
2001 and 2002 and we are presently leading the qualifications for the
2003 championship. The WRC is a very complicated sport, and we have a
lot of electronics on board, many more than in Le Mans," said Corado
Provera, Director of Peugeot Sport. 

"So the fact that ESA is able to help us is something we are very
interested in and we have listed a number of technologies which we
could work on, provided that the proposed solutions comply with
regulations. For instance, by using composite materials in the body
we could lower the center of gravity of the car to improve the
efficiency on the road."


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