Toshiba's office technology makes Lotus sports cars go faster
The motor racing industry attracts enthusiasts in droves to circuits around the world, to
watch a variety of races from Formula 1 Grand Prix to Touring Cars, Go-Karting and Motor
Bike racing. The appeal for all these aficionados lies not just in the sleek machines,
the innovative engineering, or the rivalry between opposing teams - but also in the skill
and courage displayed by each driver and rider as they strive to achieve faster speeds,
cleaner cornering and better judgement than their rivals.
Lotus Motorsports has created an exciting new series
that puts the emphasis firmly on driver skills rather than team power. All 18 drivers
competing in the "Autobytel Lotus Championship" are piloting a custom track-built Lotus
Sport Elise, modelled on Lotus's highly popular, award-winning road Lotus Elise. As Lotus
engineers also maintain every car, success for each driver will come from their ability to
gauge what changes will help their car achieve the best performance for each circuit, and
from individual performance behind the wheel.
Toshiba is one of a number of sponsors of the "Autobytel Lotus Championship" and has
been able to assist in supplying the technical expertise necessary to keep each driver
on track. Each 1.8 litre Sport Elise is capable of accelerating from 0-60mph in just
4.4 seconds, travelling at 125mph and has been customised to include a central driving
position and full integral roll cage structure. Because racing imposes much higher
loads on the car from intense acceleration, braking and cornering the braking rating
has been raised and the engine and gearbox have been modified.
Chris Arnold, General Manager of Lotus Motorsport: "What we are really striving for here
is to give drivers a chance to showcase their talents and, in the case of young drivers,
to provide a springboard up to higher levels of the sport. So far we have seen some very
exciting racing and the series has dovetailed in well with the other racing it supports."
Sensors in each car monitor areas such as engine temperature and G forces in order to
present the drivers with a clear picture of their performance during a race. These
sensors are capable of logging data at speeds of up to 20 times a second. This critical
information is then downloaded onto a Toshiba Tecra series notebook, which has been set
up with a telemetry software system capable of translating the data from the sensors
into full colour charts, to create a clear and instant picture.
The drivers can then make
use of the data to get heavily involved with the set-up options on their cars. Set-up
choices include the setting of the front splitter and rear wing in order to alter the
aerodynamics of the car and the front anti-roll bar, damper settings, brake balance and
tyre pressures can also be altered to suit all the circuits visited. Drivers can also
choose between slick or wet tyres depending on weather conditions.
A further Toshiba Tecra is taken to the circuit to enable instant updates of the Lotus
Motorsport website and to write the race report at the circuit. The laptops are then
co-ordinated by a Toshiba Magnia server, which makes it possible for the Tecras to be
networked in order to collate all the cars' data.
The final stage in the technical process is the successful delivery of clear, true to type
print-outs of the graphic images, to each driver. To achieve this a state-of-the-art Toshiba
full-colour printer/copier is used. The FC22 has been developed with an astounding range of
features, including a high powered 10 bit scanner, it also incorporates Toshiba's In-Line
Printing System, which results in fewer paper jams and increased productivity. With printing
speeds of 25 copies per minute there is no need for the drivers to be kept waiting for their
Lotus are pleased with the results, saying: "We are delighted to have Toshiba as our IT partner
- its range of technological equipment is perfectly suited to our racing needs, being both
fast and reliable."