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  Dome S101.5 Mader

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Country of origin:Japan
Produced in:2007
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 28, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAt the 1978 Geneva Motorshow, a new Japanese manufacturer, Dome, made a dashing debut. Spelled in Japanese letters Dome means 'a child's dream'. What they unveiled was the striking wedge shaped Zero show car, which drew much inspiration from earlier European prototypes. When for various legal reasons, Dome was unable to turn the Zero into a road car, it was modified for motor racing. Just over a year after the Geneva launch, Dome made its debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, in which they competed for 8 years running.

Fast forward to 2001, when Dome re-appeared on the legendary French track with an all new prototype racer. In the preceding years Dome had concentrated mainly on single seaters, with Formula 1 as the eventual target. Fortunately Dome did not attempt a Formula 1 entry, which has led to big financial problems for small racing car manufacturers in recent years. Success was had in F3000 and the Japanese Touring Car Championship, with a modified Honda NSX. As a consultant Dome helped with various prototypes, including the Jiotto Caspita supercar.

Before Dome returned to Le Mans as a manufacturer in 2001, their work already debuted in 2000; Team Goh entered a Dome modified version of the 1999 Le Mans winning BMW LMP V12. For 2001 a completely new carbon fibre / aluminium honeycomb chassis was developed to accept a variety of engines. The most striking feature of the Dome S101 is the centrally mounted headlight. The rest of the design is quite straightforward and followed the contemporary design trends, but it proved to be highly efficient.

In the hands of 1988 Le Mans winner Jan Lammers, the S101 made a promising first appearance. After qualifying fourth, Lammers briefly led the race, but the factory Audi and Bentley efforts proved too much for the new car. Lammers' Racing For Holland team has since been the most loyal of the S101 racers, competing in another three Le Mans races with their Judd V10 engined Dome. At Le Mans the Domes were destined to fight for the best of the rest spot behind the Audis and Bentleys, but dominated the 2002 FIA World Sportscar Championship and took the overall victory.

Taking full advantage of the gradual transformation in the regulations, Dome created a hybrid version of the S101 for 2005. Hybrid refers to the fact that the chassis is still consistent with the older LMP900 regulations, but the aerodynamics package is fully up to date with the new LMP1 regulations. To stimulate the construction of hybrids or completely new LMP1 cars, the governing bodies have handycapped the old cars with smaller restrictors and a 10 litre decrease in fuel capacity.

Powered by the Mugen V8 engine, the Dome S101-Hb made its competition debut at the LMES season opener, the Spa 1000 km. In the practice sessions it proved to be on the pace with its competitors, but in the race small problems saw the car come into the pits multiple times. The Jim Ganier entered car did manage to reach the finish, in fourth overall. Next up was the Le Mans 24 Hours where a variety of problems dogged the team throughout the event and finally the car was forced to retire early on Sunday morning.

With his cars rendered obsolete for 2006, Jan Lammers purchased the Mugen engined Dome Hybrid off Jim Gainer to continue racing. It was discovered that the Dome windtunnel was 'off', resulting in poor aerodynamics for both the S101 Hb and the Formula 3 car in 2005. This was rectified over the winter and Jan Lammers went to the Paul Ricard track for the season's opening test with high hopes, despite having little experience with the Mugen engine. Sadly engine related vibrations resulted in exhaust header and starter motor failures in the test and the opening race. With little time to rectify the problem, Lammers went ahead and replaced the Japanese V8 with the latest version of Judd's five litre V10.

The small Dutch team was ready in time for Le Mans and they fielded the Judd engined Dome for Lammers, Stefan Johanssen and Alex Yoong; the only full ex-F1 line-up of the race. The last minute engine change proved to be the right choice and the the car was running as high as third early on Sunday morning. Sadly Yoong made a small mistake in a braking zone and hit the barrier hard enough to cause the car to retire. There was some success later in the season when Lammers and Yoong finished third in the Nürburgring 1000 km race. It seemed a fitting finale for the S101, which had been a prominent player in sportscar racing for six years.

Dome also felt it was time for a new car, but due to the uncertainty created by the ACO concerning closed cars from 2010 onwards, the Japanese manufacturer changed its opinion. Instead they decided to use as many of the existing parts of the hybrid S101 and fit them on a new tub made according to the LMP1 regulations with double roll-hoops. Fittingly dubbed the S101.5, the 'new' Dome has been developed in such a way that it could be used in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes. The Judd engined LMP1 S101.5 was entrusted to RfH and the LMP2 car was sold to T2M Motorsport.

Powered by a Mader developed Mecachrome engine, the LMP2 Dome debuted at the second race of the 2007 Le Mans Series. It was barely completed in time and the race weekend proved to be a big disappointed with the car spending considerably more time in the pit box than on track due to an electrical failure. Next up for T2M is Le Mans; the excellent opportunity to set things straight.

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  Article Image gallery (14) Specifications