Thanks to Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket, Motor Equipment News was invited to the Nurburgring racing circuit in Germany to watch the fifth round of the 2011 FIA European Truck Racing Championship (ETRC).
Through its LuK clutch and transmission brand, Schaeffler is one of the sponsors of the Mario Kress MKR Technology truck racing team.
Hence Motor Equipment News and five other international journalists from other motor trade publications were able to spend time watching the MKR Technology team in action and receive a technical briefing from Mr Kress himself.
At the start line for the MKR Technology team at the Nurburgring round of the ETRC were the European champions Markus Bösiger (Switzerland) and Markus Oestreich (Germany) who were joined by younger driver Adam Lacko (Czech Republic).
Team owner Mario Kress is one of the most successful team owners in truck racing with more than 23 years under his belt. The MKR Technology team is based in the Czech Republic with a permanent staff of 26 people.
Schaeffler’s clutch and transmission brand LuK provides technical support to the team and also supply it with a specially-designed racing clutch (using technology from its tractor division) and an upgraded power steering pump for the Renault Premium-based racing trucks.
Mario says that the collaboration between himself and LuK on developing a racing clutch started with another team more than eight years ago. At the beginning there were problems with friction and vibration but the technology kept improving – the clutch can now withstand the demands of one and half seasons of truck racing.
Incidentally the racing trucks weigh 5.5 tonnes with a distribution of 3.3 tonnes over the front axles and 2.2 over the rear axles both of which are supplied by Meritor.
Inside the cab there are three GPS data loggers, one for the FIA, one for the team and one for Renault. The GPS units monitor the transmission and suspension, air temperature and water temperature of the engine amongst other critical data.
“We can fine tune the truck to match the driving style of it’s driver,” says Mario Kress. “And given that we have three drivers, all have completely different styles.”
For the 2011 season a new engine brake and substantial engine changes have contributed to further optimisation of the 1140 horsepower 12.8-litre capacity DXi 13 racing engine from Renault Trucks, hence the requirement for the racing clutch to be specially engineered for the task ahead.
While normal clutch pressure plates for trucks are designed to take 2,500 to 3,000 Nm of torque, a pressure plate for truck racing must be able to transfer 5,200 to 5,500 Nm of torque. The racing clutch used in the MKR racing trucks has a pressure plate that takes even higher torque than this because it is designed to cope with 6,000 Nm of torque.
The clutch discs of the MKR trucks have sintered clutch linings able to withstand high friction and to resist the high temperatures that accompany it.
The LuK power steering pump provides precise and easy steering during racing, even when making quick directional changes. Developed especially for these racing trucks, the power steering pump delivers a 15 to 20 percent higher flow-rate performance compared to standard power steering pumps used in production vehicles.
The FIA change the regulations for the 2011 Truck Racing season of which the most important are the new tyre regulations. At each race, a set of six Goodyear tyres will be chosen at random for the current top ten drivers prior to the first timed training session. Each driver must then use these particular tyres for timed training and during both races that day. This process repeats itself on the second day of racing – a set of tyres will be chosen at random. New regulations will enforce sanctions against any driver who is not able to finish with these tyres.
The season began at Easter at Donington Park (UK). After race weekends in Misano (Italy), Albacete (Spain), Nogaro (France), Smolensk (Russia), Most (Czech Republic), Zolder (Belgium) and Jarama (Spain), the season will end at Le Mans on October 8/9.
Besides providing technical support at the FIA ETRC 2011, the Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket brands LuK and FAG (precision roller bearings) will be prominently displayed on the MKR racing trucks, the team’s race clothing, and in the hospitality areas at each race.