Here is how Brembo has revolutionised brakes for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

6/16/2016

From carbon to aluminium/lithium calipers, "spline" fasteners and miniaturizations: the brakes contribute to going faster, too

In addition to forty years of experience in Formula 1, Brembo boasts a long tradition in Endurance racing, having participated in all of the 24 Hours of Le Mans competitions. This experience is full of success as demonstrated by the 24 victories earned in the last 27 editions of the competition that brings more than 250,000 spectators to the Circuit de la Sarthe every year.

Not only have the cars seen significant advancements in recent years (just consider the move from petrol engines to diesel and hybrid), but also the braking systems have been continuously evolving. Once upon a time, the best braking systems were those that guaranteed excellent results in braking.

More recently however, the brakes have become decisive in terms of accelerating and taking the curves due to the reduction in their size and mass, without having neglected reliability and durability. Here are the main innovations Brembo has introduced that have completely changed the profile of the braking systems used by the LMP1 cars in recent years


 

Increased durability of the discs

The primary innovation introduced to carbon discs for endurance racing in the past few years has to do with their wear and as a consequence, their durability. In a 24 hour race, keeping from replacing worn discs during the race can be decisive as it saves precious time.

 

audi R8 auto le mans 

 

With the introduction of new friction material back in 2001, Brembo enabled Team Joest's Audi R8, driven by Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Tom Kristensen, to finish in first place without ever having replaced the discs or brake pads.

The application of this advanced material reduced the wear considerably and ensured more efficient thermal conductivity. This incredibly low rate of wear has also enabled more reliable and consistent performance from the start to the end of the race.


 
 

Caliper weight reduction

As far as the brake calipers, the most significant development Brembo has made involves optimising the weight/stiffness ratio in order to ensure the most in stiffness with the lightest possible weight in the caliper body, without however compromising reliability.

After careful study, in 2006 Brembo introduced the one-piece caliper in aluminium/lithium, which resulted in an important evolution in terms of weight and stiffness as compared to the aluminium calipers used up until that time. Billet machined, these calipers are the ideal solution for single-seaters competing in endurance races.


 
                                                                                            


Optimised fasteners between the cup and the braking surface

                                                          

Brembo also introduced a new concept in the fixture between the cup and the braking ring. The bushing drag system, used by the LMP1 cars up until ten or so years ago (but still widespread today in the LMP2 cars for a question of cost), was replaced in 2008 by the "spline" fastener.

This solution was adopted from the one applied to Formula 1, which consists of inserting a titanium element (cup) that connects the braking ring to the hub.

Previously, ventilation was very restricted due to a blocking effect caused by the fasteners of the braking ring, but with the introduction of the "spline", a sort of helical-toothed wheel, the inner part of disc opened at airflow.


 

Reduction in disc and pad thickness

Brembo has lately been concentrating on optimising the measurements of the discs and pads to reduce the unsprung mass as much as possible.

The discs on the prototypes reached a thickness of 35 mm ten years ago, now they measure 30-32 mm. Similarly, the thickness of the carbon pads has been reduced by 31.5 mm to reach a maximum of 26 mm.

It doesn't seem like much, but with the LMP1 prototypes, even just one kilogram of weight saved translates into gaining tenths of a second each lap.

 

 

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