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Ulrich Batetzky, Peter Prodromou, Pratt & Miller and Bosch were the recipients of the Race Engine Designer, the Dino Toso Racecar Aerodynamicist and the Most Innovative New Motorsport Product of the Year awards respectively, in a night of celebration during the RACE TECH World Motorsport Symposium.

The 2013 season will go down in Audi’s history as one of the most successful – perhaps the most successful ever, with the highlight being its second successive victory at Le Mans with a hybrid racecar and quattro drive, the 12th win for the marque in the race. Another milestone came in Texas, as it marked Audi’s – and therefore Ulrich Baretzky’s – 100th overall victory with cars powered by his engines. It also marked his 20th year at Audi Sport, during which time none of his engines has ever blown up.

The Dino Toso Racecar Aerodynamicist of the Year award was presented to Peter Prodromou. The RB9 was the class of the field in 2013, especially so in the second half of the season, and while its success is partly down to the brilliance of Sebastian Vettel, the role which the aero department, led by Peter, played cannot be overstated.

The sheer variety of machinery found in sportscar racing is one of its great attractions, but with such a large variety of machinery on the track at the same time, it can lead to real problems when overtaking, with the closing speed of a Le Mans Prototype bearing quickly down on a GT car.

Until now it has been a question of looking into the mirrors, but Pratt & Miller, along with Bosch Motorsport, have developed a new radar-based collision avoidance system, which has at its heart a custom-built Intel Core i3 processor which signals to the driver the closing speed and the calculated overtaking manoeuvre.

Getting the system to work effectively under racing conditions has been far from straightforward. For a start, you need to get the camera and display to adjust automatically to a huge range of conditions, ranging from direct sunlight to midnight on the Mulsanne Straight. Next, you need to make sure that the software can recognise and track multiple objects moving at the same time and crossing each other’s path. Then there’s the question of latency – basic webcams can be two to three seconds adrift of actual events, which clearly isn’t acceptable when you have an LMP1 bearing down upon you at over 200mph!

Now fully developed, Pratt & Miller has been using the system since the beginning of the 2013 season, with excellent feedback from the drivers. All the signs are that it has the potential to make a significant impact on the safety of multi-category sports car racing.

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