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January 8, 2013

Xtrac races into International Motorsport Business Week with new 1113 race car gearbox and hybrid 1010 road car transmission


Automotive transmission technology specialist Xtrac, based in Berkshire in the UK and in Indianapolis and North Carolina in the USA, will take centre stage this week during the International Motorsport Business Week. As one of the best established engineering hi-tech companies - soon to be celebrating its 30th anniversary and forming part of the UK’s legendary Motorsport Valley - Xtrac will be at the centre of discussions focused on the radical reduction required in road car fuel consumption and carbon emissions and urgent need for advanced technical solutions that can help tackle climate change.

Key UK events throughout the week with the significant involvement of Xtrac, which is the world’s leading supplier of driveline components for motorsport and other transport sectors, include the World Motorsport Symposium organised by Race Tech magazine, the International Low Carbon Racing Conference organised by the Motorsport Industry Association, and the Autosport International Engineering Exhibition, supported by Racecar Engineering magazine.



The week commences with Adrian Moore technical director Xtrac joining a forum of eminent automotive engineers from the high octane world of motorsport attending the Race Tech World Motorsport Symposium being held at Birmingham City University, Millennium Point, 7- 8 January. The prominent engineers include John Iley performance director Caterham F1 Team who chairs the first day of the symposium focused on improving aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics and Ulrich Baretzky head of engine technology Audi Sport who chairs the second day, which puts the spotlight on advanced powertrain developments. Moore will join renowned figures including the keynote speaker Bernard Niclot technical director at the FIA.

"Motor racing is all about energy efficiency," says Moore. "The team with the lightest and most aerodynamic car that uses the least amount of fuel and has the best delivery of power and torque clearly has a winning advantage. From an engineering perspective it becomes a technical challenge to develop the most efficient machine – whether it’s a train, boat or plane. The cutting edge of these technical developments just happens to be in aerospace and motorsport engineering. And the lessons are hugely relevant to reducing road car emissions."

Moore’s technical presentation will focus on Xtrac’s ‘Race to Road’ technology transfer initiative and will discuss potential application of F1 style seamless shift technology to road cars to avoid the interruption of power and torque during gear changes, which is an inefficiency avoided in F1.

"We cannot directly apply an F1 seamless shift system without synchromesh, but we and others can hybridise an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) to provide a torque infill during gearshifting," says Moore. "This is precisely what we are doing with the Xtrac 1010 hybridised transmission concept that we announced last month at the CTi international transmission conference in Berlin."

The innovative 1010 transmission will make its UK debut at the MIA International Low Carbon Racing Conference on Wednesday 9 January, and the Autosport International exhibition this Thursday and Friday 10-11 January, where Xtrac is exhibiting its advanced hybrid gearbox alongside its brand new 1113 transmission developed for the latest R5 rally cars. Following the two day high level technical symposium, Xtrac managing director Peter Digby will similarly discuss the future of high performance race honed technology at the low carbon racing conference, where he will join another eminent panel to talk about alternative fuels and energy, electric and hybrid vehicles and sustainable materials.

"Less than two years ago on 22 March 2010 the Business, Innovation and Skills Parliamentary Select Committee appointed by the House of Commons published itsreporton the future of what it called the two crown jewels of UK manufacturing - motorsport and aerospace," says Digby. "The report concluded that the two industries have much in common; both employ a highly skilled workforce, utilise cutting edge technology and their futures were becoming increasingly intertwined."

"This excellent technical capability that we have in the UK is underscored by our well established MIA annual conference, which is world leading and has been helping to showcase real vehicles, concepts and prototypes for a number of years demonstrating the race-proven and low carbon advances made by the UK’s high performance engineering community. In the business race for global markets it’s especially relevant that the UK motorsport industry is recognised alongside aerospace as a key strategic industry for long term growth of the economy and is a major exporter."

Xtrac exports, which typify the output of this £6 billion industry, are consistently around 60 per cent of its £40 million turnover with increasing sales in the major economies of Brazil and China.

Xtrac at Autosport International
Xtrac concludes its busy week of activities with an impressive display of cutting edge technology at the Autosport International Engineering Exhibition, where the company is launching its 1113 rally gearbox, which forms the centrepiece of its motorsport products and is being homologated by the FIA this month for the new R5 race category introduced in Europe for the 2013 race season. Xtrac has also developed a complementary rear differential, which is paired with the new gearbox.

In addition to its long involvement in rallying, Xtrac supplies many other race formulas and to emphasis its strength in these markets a major theme of the products displayed this year relate to their high added value proposition for international touring cars and GT sports car racing. Xtrac will display four transmission products developed for touring cars and four transmission products developed for sports cars.

For the British Touring Car Championship (BTTC) and World Touring Car Championship (WTTC) Xtrac has developed its 1046 front wheel drive and 1080 rear wheel drive gearboxes, both entering their third successful year of racing.

The 1046 transmission, which has won both championships for the last two years, is a ‘spec’ gearbox for BTCC and used by all Next Generation Touring Cars (NGTC), which for 2013 means virtually every front wheel drive car. In WTCC it is used by the Chevrolet and Honda cars.

The 1080 gearbox is used by the BMW team in the WTCC, and the rear wheel drive cars in BTCC. Also new for 2013 is the 1153 rear differential which is a development of the previous 407 unit but with a higher torque capacity.

In the BTTC for 2012 Xtrac supplied 23 of the 24 cars competing in this popular race series. The 516 gearbox previously developed for BTCC and WTCC is now supplied to competitors in the TN series in Argentina and is the smallest and lightest touring car gearbox manufactured by Xtrac to fulfil the previous FIA regulations.

Completing its line-up of four touring car gearboxes on display at the NEC is the 426 transverse layout endurance transmission, supplied as a ‘spec’ gearbox for the Argentina TC2000 touring car series and the Brazilian Marcas series. The 426 is also used in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Pirelli World Challenge GTS class, in which Acura won the 2012 championship. The gearbox is also used by Lotus for their GTE and GT4 race cars and in the USA, the 426 is used as a four-wheel drive (4WD) gearbox for short course off-road racing.

For international sports car racing, such as Le Mans, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and various series that race to the GT3 regulations, Xtrac has developed a number of gearboxes and differentials. At the Autosport International engineering show it will display four products comprising the 600, 427, 529 gearboxes and 247 rear differential. The 600 rear longitudinal transaxle in the line-up is used by Aston Martin in their GTE and GT3 cars. One of Xtrac’s most versatile gearboxes is the 427 inline gearbox for front engine rear wheel drive cars. In the USA it’s used in the Cadillac in conjunction with Xtrac’s 247 rear differential in the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge GT class which last year won the 2012 championship. The 427 gearbox and 247 rear differential combination is also used in the BMW Z4 GT3 cars very successfully in race series globally.

These well-established transmission components developed by Xtrac remain at the leading edge of technology providing race teams with ‘standard’ off the shelf products, which can be seamlessly integrated into race cars.

With 150 units sold to date, the 529 product on display is one of Xtrac’s most widely used and successful transaxle designs developed for front or mid-engine rear wheel drive cars competing in GT series. The 529 gearbox was first introduced in 2007 for LMP1 cars and then into GTE cars with BMW in 2008 and then Corvette in 2009. It is a thoroughbred transmission being an evolution of the equally successful 229 transmission, with its Le Mans winning pedigree with BMW in 1999 and Bentley in 2003.

For a number of years now, Xtrac has distinguished itself in international sportscar racing by supplying more than half the field at Le Mans, where it has an outstanding record with its gearboxes and differentials always leading the pack in this perennial favourite race of motorsport enthusiasts.

Xtrac can be found on stand number E162 in Hall 9 at the NEC throughout the two engineering show days on Thursday and Friday 10-11 January 2013.

Established in 1984, Xtrac has become a world leader in the design and manufacture of gearboxes, differentials and driveline components, which are used throughout international motorsport and in particular within F1, IndyCar, Touring Car, Rallying, Rally Raid, GRAND-AM and many forms of sportscar racing including a major involvement in the Le Mans 24 hours, Daytona 24 hour and Sebring 12 hour races.

The award winning company is often cited as a UK industry benchmark and exemplar for small and medium size companies (SMEs) and exports more than 60 per cent of its products. Employing over 275 staff, it has built on its motorsport success by securing projects in the aerospace, automotive, defence, hybrid vehicle and marine industries. All employees can participate in an award winning share scheme becoming shareholders through its Employee Shareholder Trust.

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