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  Epsilon Euskadi ee1 Judd

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Country of origin:Spain
Produced in:2008
Designed by:John Travis, Sergio Rinland and Aitor Tejado for Espilon Euskadi
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:April 24, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFor several years stories and some promising drawings circulated in the sports car press about the 'Epsilon Euskadi'; a Spanish built Le Mans racer. The car is part of an elaborate plan to build a 'High Performance Motor Racing Technology Centre' in the north Spanish Basque province. Run by former McLaren, Ferrari and Benetton mechanic / manager Juan Villadelprat, Epsilon Euskadi first entered various one-make racing series. In 2005 Polish driver Robert Kubica won the World Series by Renault in an Epsilon Euskadi entered machine, which leapfrogged him into Formula 1. Apart from the racing activities Epsilon Euskadi also offers education for drivers and mechanics on a masters level.

The most ambitious aspect of Villadelprat's plan is no doubt to become the first Spanish manufacturer to race at Le Mans. Over fifty years ago Pegaso came close to achieving this, but a horrendous accident in practice saw the Spanish company withdraw from the 1953 race, never to return again. To make sure his racing cars were more successful, Villadelprat hired former Lola designer John Travis. He was given ample of time to draw up a very smooth fixed head prototype racer, complying with the latest LMP1 regulations. Right as production of the first parts started, Travis moved to Ferrari to design the new A1GP single seater racing car. His place was taken by Sergio Rinland, who like his boss has several decades of F1 experience. He was originally hired to oversee the entire project, but was forced to get more hands on to finalize the design after Travis left.

Assembled over the winter of 2007/2008 in the company's state of the art facility, the Epsilon Euskadi ee1 first took to the track towards the end of February 2008. Powered by the familiar Judd V10 engine, the ee1 at first sight looks like most other privately developed Le Mans racer. Closer inspection revealed that Travis spent his time well and included various elements that set the Spanish racer apart from the competition. The biggest difference is the way the engine is installed in the chassis; fully stressed. As far as we know, this is the first time the Judd V10 is used without a subframe. The main reason for this was to lower the centre of gravity as much as possible, which Travis believed was the only solution to bridge the gap with the diesel engined Works cars. The quest to keep the height down is also clearly visible from the outside where the high fenders contrast with the low nose and side-pods. The front aerodynamics follow the Audi pattern with the shrouded front suspension.

Due to problems with sourcing parts from suppliers, the ee1 could not be seriously tested before its first public appearance at the Official Le Mans Series Test at Paul Ricard. Here the car attracted much attention, but teething problems made the car's first outing very frustrating and only a few laps were completed. The Paul Ricard Test was almost immediately followed by the first Le Mans Series race at Barcelona. Understandably the Epsilon Euskadi was again in the limelight at its home Grand Prix. Piloted by Spanish drivers Angel Burgueno and Miguel Angel de Castro, the new coupe again failed to impress. Technical problems again prevented the machine to live up to its potential. The weight balance was too far to the rear, which burned up the rear tires while the front tires failed to heat up. The problem could not be solved at the track, so the team used the race as another and very welcome test session.

Time restraints forced Epsilon Euskadi to do all of their testing in public, which gave a poor first impression of the car's potential. We are confident that once the ee1 is properly dialed in, it will be much more competitive. With an invitation for this June's 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the team has a strict deadline to get the car sorted. Certainly they will fair better than the first time a Spanish manufacturer tried to race at Le Mans.

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