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  WR LMP 2008 Zytek      

  Article Image gallery (27) 2008-001 Specifications  
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Country of origin:France
Produced in:2008
Designed by:Gerard Welter and Jean-Cristophe Bolle-Reddat
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:February 16, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWelter Racing is one of the most unique teams on the international endurance racing grids. Centered around Peugeot design chief Gérard Welter and his wife Rachel, the small team consists almost entirely of volunteers and students. They have nevertheless been competitors in the 24 Hours for many years in the various prototype classes. The last appearance was in the 2006 edition with a design that was still remarkably similar to the very first WR that debuted back in 1990. Welter subsequently announced an ambitious plan to race with a bio-diesel (Diester) fueled machine in the very near future. That was the last we heard of the team until early in 2008 when a brand new prototype racers was revealed.

Simply known as the LMP 2008, the new WR was clearly a clean sheet design and a major departure from convention. The most striking feature is the 'platypus' nose that is much wider than other designs, particularly at the tip. Interestingly the monocoque seems closely related to that of a contemporary single seater racing cars with undercut and vented sidepods. As a result the front fenders are almost completely detached from the main body. The unusual design of the 2008 WR was penned by the volunteers at the 'Automotive Design Network' (ADN), the new Peugeot-Citroën design center. A full size model was extensively tested in the Saint Cyr wind tunnel.

Under the innovative skin, the new WR still bore a close resemblance with the team's previous racing cars. The monocoque was created from carbon fiber and aluminium honeycomb. The front and rear double wishbone suspension featured push-rod actuated coil springs over dampers. In the engine bay we did not find the promised Diester engine or the familiar Peugeot sourced V6 and four cylinder engines. Instead Welter Racing opted to go with the tried and trusted Zytek V8 engine that had clinched the LMP2 class win at Le Mans in 2007, in the back of a Lola. The engine was mated to a Ricardo six-speed sequential gearbox.

Surprisingly the team did not receive an invitation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Instead they focused on the Le Mans Series where a single car was entered for Stéphane and Philippe Salini and Patrice Roussel. It proved to be a very difficult season for the team. Eventually the WR only reached the finish once at the season opening race in Barcelona. There it crossed the line in 34th overall and 10th in class. The season ended on a low with a very early retirement from the Silverstone 1000 km race. The car lasted just three laps.

With the relatively inexperienced driver line-up it is hard to say how good the new WR LMP 2008 really is. Perhaps in 2009 we will get a better idea when the talented Frenchman Tristan Gommendy will join the driver line-up. Early in 2009 it became very clear that the volunteer designers were certainly onto something; the brand new 'revolutionary' Audi R15 TDI was remarkably similar to the 'platypus' WR. The Audi engineers did take many of the design themes, like the wide nose, much further.

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  Article Image gallery (27) 2008-001 Specifications