Three British companies – Xtrac, Flybrid Systems and Torotrak – jointly received this year’s prestigious ‘Teamwork Award’ at the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) annual Awards Dinner for their close working relationship in the development of a groundbreaking mechanical kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) for motor sport applications.
It is the first time this award has been presented simultaneously to three companies, who were also nominated for the prestigious ‘Technology and Innovation Award’. Each award is decided upon through a process of voting by MIA members in the weeks leading up to the event.
The three business partners were singled out from other influential motorsport organisations – McLaren Mercedes F1 Racing Team, M-Sport World Rally Team and Shell Racing Solutions – nominated for the teamwork award, which was in one of eight categories recognising the industry’s highest achievers from the past year.“We are delighted that the motorsport industry has chosen to recognise that three very different businesses have successfully applied their respective areas of technical expertise to develop a new and innovative technology,” said technical director Adrian Moore, who collected the award on behalf of Xtrac.
“We too are delighted the motorsport industry has chosen to recognise the combined effort of our three businesses to step up to the KERS challenge,” said Doug Cross, who received the award on behalf of Flybrid Systems, the company he co-founded with managing partner Jon Hilton. “This latest accolade clearly highlights the recognition KERS is receiving as a major motorsport innovation, which addresses the demands being made of the industry to become more energy efficient and to help lead in the development of ‘greener’ engineering solutions,” said business manager Chris Brockbank, who received the award on behalf of Torotrak.
Torotrak CEO Dick Elsy added: “This is the first time that the MIA award for teamwork has been given to three independent companies working together. It is indicative of how a change in regulations can lead to opportunities for specialist UK companies from different areas of the industry to work together to create groundbreaking technology for F1, and in particular a technology that I expect to cascade into general automotive applications.”
This latest motorsport industry accolade closely follows all three companies receiving the ‘Engine Innovation of the Year’ award at the Professional MotorSport Awards Dinner held in Cologne in November 2007. The three businesses have combined their different but complementary technical capabilities to provide the new mechanical KERS innovation following the decision by the FIA to permit energy recovery in F1 from the 2009 season.
Each company has played an important role in the development of the KERS system. Xtrac has a license from Torotrak to design and manufacture a continuously variable transmission (CVT), incorporating Torotrak’s traction drive technology, which matches the speed between a flywheel and vehicle drivetrain. The KERS assembly is completed by Flybrid with the addition of electronic controls, mechanical flywheel and containment system. As the final system integrator, Flybrid also carries out the calibration, testing and installation of KERS for the customer.
The mechanical KERS system utilises a flywheel to recover and store a moving vehicle’s kinetic energy, which is otherwise wasted when the vehicle is decelerated. The energy is received from the driveline through the CVT as the vehicle decelerates, and is subsequently released back into the driveline, again through the CVT, as the vehicle accelerates. The FIA has defined the amount of energy recovery for the F1 2009 season as 400kJ per lap giving the driver an extra 80hp over a period of approximately seven seconds.
The role played by Flybrid, Torotrak and Xtrac in designing a KERS solution for F1 could be highly instrumental in developing this pioneering vehicle technology for more fuel efficient road cars, especially important at a time of spiralling fuel prices and tighter emission regulations, without resorting to the expense and complexity of battery systems. Compared with hybrid electric vehicles, which use batteries for energy storage, a mechanical KERS system utilises flywheel technology as a highly efficient alternative to recover and store a moving vehicle’s kinetic energy.
Applied to road cars the system supports the industry trend for smaller powertrains and hybrid vehicles. Flybrid, Torotrak and Xtrac believe that compared to the alternative of battery systems, a mechanical flywheel-based KERS system can provide a more compact, lighter and environmentally-friendly solution.
First presented in 1995, the MIA Awards were created to recognise excellence at all levels within the motorsport and high performance engineering industry and Xtrac has previously won MIA awards for Business of the Year and Export Achievement (twice). Taking place on the evening of the first day of the Autosport International Show (NEC, Birmingham, January 10th-13th 2008), the sell-out dinner was attended by an audience of some 500 representatives of the international motorsport community.
In its official statement the MIA comments that ‘all motorsport companies are eligible to win one of these sought-after awards; nominations for which are made by the MIA membership thereby demonstrating that the winners have earned the respect and support of their industry peers, which makes the awards especially meaningful to the recipients.’
The ‘Teamwork Award’ was sponsored by MIRA, whose chief executive John Wood presented the award.