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  Zytek 07S/2
 

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:2007
Numbers built:at least 2
Designed by:Tim Holloway for Zytek
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 15, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAlthough not always visible to the general public, Zytek has been involved in motor racing for almost three decades. The company first supplied engine management systems, but later expanded their business to supply complete engines to series like F3000 and more recently A1 Grand Prix. Much of the experience gathered in racing was later transferred for road car applications and today Zytek is one of the industry leaders when it comes to electric and hybrid technology. Considering that, it is not surprising their first high profile involvement in sportscar racing was with the hybrid Panoz Q9. That was a short-lived project and in the last few years, they campaigned rather more conventional racing cars, but the intent to enter Le Mans with a hybrid remains.

After supplying a wide variety of parts for over two decades, Zytek became a manufacturer of complete vehicles late in 2002 when it bought the production rights of what would have been the Reynard 02S and some of Reynard's assets. Sadly, the company went bankrupt before the first 02S could be completed, although a third party later completed the first car and it raced alongside Zytek's version for several years as the DBA4 03S. In fact Zytek was already involved in the Reynard / DBA4 project as an engine supplier. After the Zytek engined 03S showed great potential throughout 2003, Zytek decided to produce at least one additional chassis to race themselves in 2004 and the aptly dubbed Zytek 04S was born.

By the time the first Zytek was completed, the sports governing body (the Automobile Club de l'Ouest or ACO) had set a process in motion that would eventually lead to a complete set of new regulations in 2007. The first step was that the old LMP675 and LMP900 cars would be combined into the LMP1, complemented by the somewhat slower LMP2 cars. The new Zytek was built to the LMP675 regulations and featured Zytek's 3.4 litre V8 engine. It immediately impressed in its debut season and proved particularly successful in 2005 when two wins in the Le Mans Endurance Series were scored and the team finished runner up in the championship by just one point. In its configuration, the 04S was rendered obsolete for 2006, but equipped with a new body and engine, and rebadged '06S' it could continue to race for an additional season. It impressed on both sides of the Atlantic, but proved a little too fragile.

Not to be confused with the 'hybrid' mentioned above, the 06S was considered a hybrid vehicle as it combined the new style bodywork with an old chassis. For 2007, these hybrids were also banned and at least in Europe endurance racing is open only to prototypes that fully comply with the LMP1/2 regulations. The biggest change was the requirement of a second roll hoop, giving the cars less of single seater look and feel. Anticipating these changes, Zytek designed the 06S body panels to fit on the new tub developed for the 07S. To appeal to a broad range of customers, the new Zytek 07S could be ordered as either a LMP1 or a LMP2 racer, fitted with the 4 or 3.4 litre Zytek V8 engine respectively. The 07S chassis itself is relatively conventional, consisting of a carbon fibre monocoque with double wishbone suspension on both ends. Fortunately the body still reminds us of Reynard's very elegant original design, although it has been altered in many areas to comply with the LMP1/2 aero rules.

Built to LMP2 specs, the very first 07S was completed literally with minutes to spare, before it was shipped to the annual test on the Paul Ricard High Speed Test Track. Actually the mechanics still had some loose ends to tie up on the track and it was not until late in the afternoon of the first day that the Barazi Epsilon Zytek 07S/2 first turned a wheel in anger. Reminiscent of the 04S debut, some three years earlier, the 07S/2 immediately impressed and ended the two-day test session second in class. At the opening two races of the season at Monza and Valencia, the 07S/2 continued to impress, setting back to back poles. Sadly teething problems preventing the Barazi Epsilon from capitalizing on the Zytek's spectacular pace.

Next up was Le Mans where the Barazi Epsilon team had a second entry, which was taken care of by Zytek Motorsport and a highly talented team of drivers headed by Adrian Fernandez. Le Mans again proved to be very hard on the LMP2 cars and as the sun rose on Sunday morning just three cars were still running; the two Zyteks and the Zytek engined Binnie Motorsport Lola. The Gulf livered Barazi Epsilon 07S/2 looked set to take a comfortable as it had built up quite a lead over the other two. It was not to be as Karim Ojjeh lost the car coming up the straight, crashing into the barriers violently. The day was somewhat saved for Zytek as Binnie took the win, ahead of the other 07S/2, which had been delayed with various technical problems.

Two weeks later the Barazi Epsilon showed resilience and finished second in class during the Nürburgring 1000 km. The victory was near, but an unwilling wheelnut cost them over a minute. At the Silverstone round of the Le Mans Series, the second car was entered once again, this time by Team LNT for their talented young drivers Danny Watts and Tom Kimber-Smith. They grabbed the class pole and in the opening stages of the race their 07S/2 was the only car capable of keeping up with the Peugeots. Sadly an alternator failure cost them several laps and a spectacular chase back up the field finally ended in second place. Second behind the Barazi Epsilon car, which finally took the long awaited win after a trouble free run with a stellar middle stint by Michael Vergers.

Across the Atlantic in the American Le Mans Series, the Porsche and Acura LMP2 cars had greatly impressed, with the Porsches managing to beat the LMP1 Audis on several occasions. To see just how the fastest 'European' car would do against the factory built racers, Zytek sent the second 07S/2 over for the final two ALMS races. Despite having to adapt to running on E85, the Zytek 07S/2 driven by Stefan Mucke, Jan Charouz and Danny Watts was quickly on the pace of all but the dominant Penske Porsches at its American debut in the Petit Le Mans. In the action packed 1000 mile race, the 07S/2 lost some time in the pits, but eventually still managed to finished fourth overall and third in class.

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