Freaky freighters

Europe’s rac­ing trucks show the ben­e­fit of big spon­sors’ bucks

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

Re­nault’s fac­tory-backed race truck is based on a big con­ven­tional cab-over Mag­num model (as op­posed to a bon­neted style), which isn’t sold in Aus­tralia.

Take a look at the Re­nault rac­ing truck from be­hind and there’s the engine sit­ting be­hind the cab, be­tween the chas­sis rails. The truck chas­sis is dif­fer­ent to a road-go­ing rig and the engine is out the back to even up the weight dis­tri­bu­tion.

The tur­bocharger in­ter­cooler, ra­di­a­tor and air fil­ter are un­der the cab, while the ex­tra-strength cus­tom chas­sis en­sures the high­est pos­si­ble pro­tec­tion in a crash.

Re­nault Trucks has race­tuned a DXi13 12.8-litre six­cylin­der diesel to pro­vide max­i­mum per­for­mance. It gen­er­ates a whop­ping 854kW (1160hp) and an in­cred­i­ble 5200Nm of torque, with max­i­mum engine speed of 2600rpm, sent through a 16-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion to a sin­gle axle with four wheels.

Rules re­quire min­i­mum weight of 5500kg, which is su­per light for a truck.

The power to weight ra­tio leads to al­most fright­en­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion (a per­for­mance car-like 0-100km/h in 6.5 sec­onds) and top speed (lim­ited to 160km/h).

The rolling per­for­mance is also im­pres­sive, with a re­mark­able 60km/h-160km/h split of less than seven sec­onds.

With such per­for­mance, brak­ing is im­per­a­tive and a lot of thought is put into the brak­ing sys­tems given how hard they work pulling up big and heavy trucks.

The brake pads can ac­tu­ally be seen smok­ing when the trucks brake heav­ily.

A pneu­matic brake sys­tem uses Brembo ven­ti­lated steel discs latched on to by sin­gle Mer­i­tor calipers. In or­der to pre­vent them over­heat­ing, a wa­ter spray cool­ing sys­tem op­er­ates throughout the race.

The FIA rules spec­ify the truck cab be shared with a pro­duc­tion model. Re­nault chose a Mag­num day-cab, opt­ing for the car trans­porter ver­sion, which means it has a low roof for bet­ter aero­dy­nam­ics.

Of course the styling is very dif­fer­ent, with Re­nault Trucks pen­ning the ag­gres­sive look at its de­sign cen­tre. No rear spoil­ers are al­lowed but the body­work clearly helps fun­nel the air over the back of the truck ef­fec­tively.

The trucks have a turntable, not that they could haul a trailer.

The race trucks have an ex­ten­sive FIA safety cage, along with har­ness, wrap­around seats, a cut-out switch and ex­tin­guisher. While the driv­ers are less likely to make risky moves than tour­ing car rac­ers, spec­tac­u­lar crashes can hap­pen and the mas­sive forces in­volved mean they can re­sult in a lot of dam­age.

For those in­ter­ested in a vir­tual drive, Re­nault of­fers a free PC, smart­phone and iPad game, view re­ truck­rac­ing.

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