Huayra Pronello Ford racing car visits Catesby Tunnel for aerodynamic testing ahead of Goodwood Festival of Speed
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Engineer Sergio Rinland and aerodynamics students from Oxford Brookes University brought the historic Huayra Pronello Ford to the vehicle aerodynamics and performance testing facility, Catesby Tunnel, on Tuesday, July 4.
Originally built in 1969, the Argentine racing car was designed by Heriberto Pronello for the official Ford Sports-Prototype team and driven by Formula One driver Carlos Reutemann. In the late 1960s, it was highly competitive in Argentina's Sports-Prototype series, qualifying and racing in virtually all of Argentina's Turismo Carretera events.
Ricardo Zeziola, the current owner of the Huayra, discovered the vehicle in Córdoba in 2005 and restored it. Heriberto Pronello supervised and collaborated alongside Ricardo on the restoration of the Huayra.
Willem Toet, ex-Ferrari, Honda and BMW Sauber Formula One aerodynamicist said:
“It is a stunning car. It has a slippery upper shape and a flat floor with a diffuser that gave it quite an edge in its day. It (the diffuser) has an expansion ratio that puts it staggeringly close to the maximum downforce you can get from a diffuser.”
Organised by Argentine engineer, Sergio Rinland, the car was shipped from Argentina to Oxford where engineering students from Oxford Brookes University worked diligently on it, fitting it with pressure sensors and various other equipment.
The car was tested and evaluated in the Catesby wind tunnel to better understand its aerodynamic properties. The Huayra employs ground effects aerodynamics by creating a low-pressure zone underneath the car that generates downforce. This design was devised by Heriberto himself in 1965. The effects of increasing the ride height and adding an extended tail were also tested.
“The car was at the tunnel with pressure tappings added to it, in order to look at the pressure distribution around the car which looks to completely confirm that it works exactly as the designer expected,” said Willem.
Catesby Tunnel, with 2740 meters in length and 8.2 meters in width, is a global benchmark for vehicle testing, capable of providing precise and affordable full-scale aerodynamic and performance data. Since early November 2021, the facilities have been open to the public.
Sergio Rinland, ex-Brabham, Benetton and Sauber Formula One designer, said: “Catesby Tunnel really is the perfect facility for this sort of testing. We have a full-scale vehicle on an asphalt road, without the need for struts or supports like in a wind tunnel. The radiators, gearbox, engine, et cetera, are all at proper running temperatures.”
Catesby Tunnel, a Victorian railway tunnel that operated until September 1966, was part of the Great Central’s ‘London Extension’, with the first train passing through in July 1898.
The tunnel underwent a multi-million pound transformation, to convert the disused railway tunnel into a vehicle testing facility. The renovation began in 2020 at a cost of more than £13 million, with the facility set to open in the summer of 2021.
“Also, unlike traditional outdoor testing, we can control the variables. The smooth surface and consistent environmental conditions have allowed us to collect data with phenomenal repeatability. This is a great way to confirm or otherwise the aerodynamic characteristics of historic cars in a fun and inexpensive way,” said Sergio.
Following testing, the Huayra Pronello Ford was displayed in the official residence gardens of the Embassy of Argentina in London before conquering Goodwood's famous hill climb. A questions-and-answers session with Ricardo Zeziola, Heriberto Pronello, and Sergio Rinland was also held there in front of a captivated audience.
“It has been a pleasure for us to be involved in what is such a wonderful moment in Argentine motorsport,” said a spokesperson from Catesby Projects.
The car arrived for the 75th edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed on Friday, July 13.
The annual motorsports festival, from July 13 to 16, featured modern and classic motor racing vehicles taking part in a hill climb and other events at Goodwood House in West Sussex, England.
Despite bad weather bringing a halt to proceedings on the day, the car took on the famous hill climb multiple times on both Friday and Sunday.
Huayra Pronello Ford was exhibited at the renowned festival along with other classic and historic Formula One, rally, sports prototypes and various categories of sports world competition vehicles. The Goodwood Festival of Speed organisational team named it the favourite vehicle.