Xtrac steers to a new motorsport design

  • 09-Dec-2008 04:14 EST
Xtrac steering system,56436xtrac.jpg

Xtrac has developed a modular steering system for motorsports.

Specialist design and engineering company Xtrac announced, at the Professional MotorSport World Expo in Cologn­e, its first complete steering rack assembly plus its latest gearboxes and differentials for rally, touring, and sports cars competing in high-level formula events, including a new transmission system developed for the A1 Grand Prix World Cup of Motorsport race series.

The company has many years’ experience in the supply of high-precision rack-and-pinion systems for Formula One teams to construct their own steering assemblies. Now it has designed its first complete system, built to a similar high specification, which it can supply to other race formulae.

It comprises a rack-and-pinion steering assembly incorporating fully ground gears, a titanium or steel rack extension, and high-specification bushes. It weighs less than 1.8 kg, complete, and the steering rack is assembled under strict quality-control procedures, says Xtrac, which has invested in a special test rig to validate each assembly to ensure that it is built to the required, consistently high standards.

Initial application for Xtrac’s high-specification steering assembly will be LMP1 and LMP2 LeMans Prototype cars, which typically use an in-column electrical-power assistance, with which the Xtrac system is designed to interface. The rack-and-pinion steering assembly design is modular, enabling it to be made bigger or smaller for other vehicle installations. It is contained in a one-piece lightweight magnesium housing, allowing various length arms to be fitted, further easing its application into a variety of racecars.

Particular attention has been paid to the ease of backlash adjustment during build to ensure the assembly provides the optimum feel for the driver with the least setup time. A mount and drive system is included to permit the fitment of a potentiometer to monitor steering angle. The new steering rack assembly also benefits from its continuing investment in the latest manufacturing processes, says the company.

The new A1GP gearbox, designed and manufactured by Xtrac at its UK technical center, was required for the 2008 series, which commenced racing last September. It follows a six-year agreement between the A1GP organizers and Ferrari to consult on the design and manufacture of a new racecar powered by a Ferrari V8 engine. The longitudinal gearbox with its magnesium casing was designed from a clean sheet of paper to suit the new chassis. The transmission is mated to a Magneti Marelli paddle-shift gear selection system. Xtrac has been involved with the A1GP series since it began in 2005.

While Xtrac supplies sports car teams with gearboxes designed to an ultimate specification, it can also offer a customer version of its 529 gearbox.

Xtrac displayed its 516 transmission at Cologne, for which the company last year received the Most Innovative New Motorsport Product of the Year Award. The award was presented for its pioneering work in developing a reliable, lightweight, and cost-effective high-performance gearbox for race teams competing in the World Touring Car Championship.

The new gearbox applies Xtrac’s longstanding expertise and adopts design principles to minimize mass, size, and inertia. Particular attention in the design was paid to improve both gearchange response and feel and differential performance.

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