Racelogic’s VBOX sys­tem is mak­ing data log­ging ac­ces­si­ble to the masses. By Rob Lad­brook

Motor Sport News - - Racelogic -

Set-up will only get you so far in mo­tor­sport. Pre­ci­sion tun­ing of metal and rub­ber ac­counts for the fi­nal few tenths driv­ers need to be suc­cess­ful, at the most. But by far the big­gest gains in this sport come from the or­ganic mat­ter be­hind the steer­ing wheel.

Tech­nol­ogy is con­stantly evolv­ing within the sport, and that’s a good thing be­cause not only does it al­low driv­ers to con­tin­u­ally push the bound­aries of what’s pos­si­ble on track, it also al­lows them to re­view their own per­for­mance off it.

Data log­ging and analysis used to be a tool re­served only for the su­pertech­ni­cal, or the su­per-funded. But now driv­ers of all lev­els across the world can have ac­cess to pre­ci­sion data and coach­ing tools thanks to Racelogic and its VBOX sys­tem.

De­vel­oped by club racer Ju­lian Thomas’s com­pany, the sys­tem al­lows for easy cap­ture, re­play and analysis of ev­ery­thing a car does out on track, at any cir­cuit.

Tech­nol­ogy ex­pert Thomas first came up with the con­cept for the sys­tem when kart­ing.

“I used to com­pete against one of my col­leagues and he was al­ways quicker than me, but couldn’t ex­plain why,” says Thomas. “I rigged up a sys­tem to put on his kart to mea­sure his throt­tle, brake ap­pli­ca­tion and speed and could then see what he was do­ing dif­fer­ently to me. That’s when these types of sys­tems re­ally came to my at­ten­tion.”

Racelogic has come a long way in the fol­low­ing 24 years, with its other prod­ucts used by ma­jor au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers to mea­sure emer­gency brak­ing sys­tems, col­li­sion avoid­ance sys­tems and more.

In rac­ing terms, VBOX Video HD2 is its mar­quee prod­uct. Over 8500 VBOX sys­tems have been sold to date. Us­ing global po­si­tion­ing sys­tems ac­cu­rate to just a few cen­time­tres, the sys­tem can give real-time in­for­ma­tion about speed, lap­time and, of­ten more cru­cially, tech­nique. The sys­tem uses side-by-side video com­par­isons to make it easy to spot where im­prove­ments can be made. The sys­tem also au­to­mat­i­cally recog­nises and plots 500 cir­cuits around the world.

“Many data sys­tems can be way too com­plex, of­ten made by elec­tron­ics en­gi­neers who have never gone rac­ing,” says Thomas. “VBOX is made by rac­ing driv­ers for rac­ing driv­ers, so we kept things sim­ple and ac­ces­si­ble to give driv­ers the most rel­e­vant data to help them im­prove.

“The sys­tem breaks down a lap into sec­tors by us­ing the top speed at any given time, and then gives you ac­cu­rate data for each sec­tor every lap. The com­puter will then select your fastest out­right lap and use that as the bench­mark and give you the data to spot every mis­take or im­prove­ment.

“You can see ex­actly how much time you could save by hug­ging an apex a lit­tle longer, or how much you’d lose by run­ning too wide. If you con­tinue to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent lines, it helps you de­velop a the­o­ret­i­cal per­fect line around the track. Some­times even a mis­take can find you time you never re­alised.”

The cir­cuit track­ing GPS is also a new way of log­ging driv­ing data, and is ac­cu­rate re­gard­less of the length or na­ture of the track you’re on, mean­ing it can pre­dict lap times in the same way for the 1.2-mile Brands Hatch Indy track or the full 12.3-mile Nur­bur­gring Nord­schleife.

“Tra­di­tion­ally the way to track lap times was on dis­tance cov­ered and the sys­tem would record each lap de­pend­ing on how far you’d trav­elled on what line,” ex­plains Thomas. “On Brands Indy a lap could pos­si­bly only vary by about 10-15me­tres max­i­mum if you ran wide a few times. But on the Nord­schleife you have to vary your lines so of­ten with traf­fic or con­di­tions, so a lap could vary by 800 me­tres or more for a pro driver, mean­ing af­ter five turns the data gets out of sync and your pre­dicted laps can be­come mul­ti­ple sec­onds out.

“By us­ing ac­cu­rate GPS track­ing we can keep pre­dicted lap times to within a tenth of a sec­ond on tracks like the Nord­schleife above or be­low your best.”

The ba­sic VBOX Video HD2 con­sists of a sin­gle main data box, an aerial and two 1080p cam­eras, mak­ing it easy to in­stall or move be­tween cars. While the sys­tem is sim­ple to use for am­a­teur rac­ers, it is also prov­ing a use­ful tool for pro­fes­sion­als.

Driver coach and suc­cess­ful racer Calum Lockie says: “I’ve seen peo­ple try­ing to use hugely com­pli­cated data sys­tems and they get lost in them, which leads to dis­heart­en­ing and then you get a down­ward spi­ral in per­for­mance. The VBOX does all you need it to do and you can tai­lor it to be as sim­ple or as com­plex as you like.

“You can dig down from the base data, which is of­ten the best way to do it. By just us­ing the side-by-side video and the data traces you have masses of in­for­ma­tion. Mod­ern mo­tor­sport is very ho­mogenised, with sin­gle-make se­ries and lim­ited ad­justa­bil­ity, so by far the big­gest gains are found in the driv­ers them­selves. This sys­tem rips up the rac­ing driv­ers’ ex­cuses book and in­stead gives every­body a way of pick­ing out their mis­takes and finding ways to bet­ter their per­for­mance.” ■

“It’s made by race driv­ers, for race driv­ers” Ju­lian Thomas “The most gains come from the driver” Calum Lockie

In­stal­la­tion is sim­ple with box un­der dash Sys­tem recog­nises up to 500 race cir­cuits Thomas gained time in his Jaguar E-type

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