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Courage Competition turns to simulation for help to meet challenges of 24 Hours of Le Mans

ESI Group : 05 April, 2005  (New Product)
For over 20 years, Courage Comp
Courage Compétition was able to test on computer the crashworthiness of the composite nose of the new C60 race car and reduce the weight of the component by a factor of four!

For over 20 years, Courage Compétition's prototypes have been successfully competing against those of global OEMs in LMP1 and LMP2 races. Yves Courage, founder of the Le Mans, Sarthe based manufacturer, set the goal of designing 100% of the vehicle content, except for the engine. Software simulation tools are an integral part of the development process, allowing the manufacturer to reduce lead times and development costs and design better performing race cars. PAM-CRASH allowed Courage Compétition to study the behavior of the nose of the new C60 car which will compete in the next edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This analysis was extremely complex, since this component is made out of composite materials, which, unlike metallic materials that deform under impact, explode in multiple tiny pieces. PAM-CRASH made it possible to meet the new more stringent frontal crash test regulations, while reducing the weight of the component by a factor of four.

In order to get the best results in races, we have to optimize the few percents that will make the difference on the track', says Yves Courage. This is why we entered into technical partnerships with our software suppliers. As such, ESI Group developed a new material model for composite material in PAM-CRASH, which required to write and validate new algorithms.'

Simulation results were within 3% of the actual physical test results.

Following this first experience, Courage Compétition analyzed other components of the car, and in particular the Carbone-Nida-Carbone sandwich floor board, with SYSPLY, ESI Group's software solution for design optimization of composite structures. SYSPLY highlighted high stress areas as well as areas that were too thick for the low level of loading they were undergoing. The optimization of the thickness distribution so that the stress levels were uniform in the floor board yielded a component 25% lighter and 40% stiffer. Every single composite component of the new C60 were analyzed in a similar fashion, yielding a 15% weight reduction even though load requirements of the new regulation were actually much higher.
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