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Dane: Drive-by-wire upgrade cost not yet justified

Tom Howard

Thursday 18th July, 2019 - 3:47pm

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Supercars is evaluating the drive by wire system in Triple Eight’s Holden Sandman

Drive-by-wire technology in Supercars would be an unnecessary cost to teams if introduced to the category as a standalone item, according to Triple Eight owner Roland Dane.

As previously revealed, Supercars is evaluating the electronic system and a new ECU package with Craig Lowndes trialling the components in Triple Eight’s bespoke Sandman Supercar during an in-season test day for Queensland teams at Ipswich.

Triple Eight’s Holden Sandman was built with a drive-by-wire throttle, which replaces the traditional cable method. It allows computers to program a more precise control of the throttle opening compared to a cable that stretches over time.

The category is assessing the use of drive-by-wire technology for next year as part of its evaluation of the engine package for 2020.

Supercars is looking to extend the life of engines and reduce the amount of rebuilds for teams that can cost up $40,000.

Cutting costs is a key objective for Supercars as it looks to improve the category’s sustainability for teams.

However, Dane feels drive-by-wire technology is not required at the moment and its introduction would not be a money saving measure.

“The drive by wire system by itself, we don’t need it,” Dane told Speedcafe.com.

“It will cost a fair amount of money to put on every car.

“If we need it for performance equalisation of some sort or we need it because we are running an electronic gearbox, gear change mechanism then maybe it would be justified, but we are not at the moment.

“We are doing the testing because it is relatively straight forward on that car.

“We have run it in that car before and we are happy to do that but there is no way the category should be introducing it just for the sake of it and it will cost us plenty of money to do that.

“By itself it is not a cost saving measure, but it is a question of whether it allows you do something else like the gearbox for instance, but the electronic gear change is not on the radar for next year.”

Meanwhile, from a drivers’ perspective Lowndes concedes there are advantages and disadvantages to the system, but believes it would be a good move for the series.

“I think to be honest the difference is the weight of the pedal; you are not operating a cable,” Lowndes told Speedcafe.com.

“There is really little friction in that side of it but also a light pedal can be a downside too because any movement from your foot on the pedal it actually moves the pedal itself. 

“I think it would be a good step forward because you can program the rate of the throttle pedal and every driver is slightly different.

“But the ability to plug a laptop in and change how aggressive it comes on or if you want to delay it or dull it down, it would be perfect for wet weather conditions because you can change it quite quickly.

“I think it is great thing. The only downside is, and that is with any new technology, if it fails you will be in limp home mode.”

In addition, to the drive-by-wire test, Triple Eight has both its ZB Commodores for Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen alongside its Super2 Holdens in action at Queensland Raceway today.

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