Although the R-One has been designed to use an updated version of the customer 3.4-liter Toyota V8 engine currently fitted to the team's Lolas (LEFT), Hayden says the R-One has been built with the ability to accommodate different powerplants.
“If you think about the way that LMP cars are bolted together, the heart of the car is the tub itself,” he added. “What we've been able to do with the Lola chassis is install engines into that chassis that weren't originally considered, so there's been a fair amount of flexibility and adaptability. Except for that we've had with the Lola is the rest of the bodywork has not been optimized around that installation. And so what we're doing is designing the tub with a certain amount of flexibility in mind but the bodywork design will be optimized around this [Toyota] engine installation.
“So we believe that the aero efficiency for the car is going to be so critical under the new regulations that to compromise in that area would not be the sensible thing to do. But to extend the car to accept different engine installations or even if you could consider using the chassis as the basis or the tub as the basis for the P2 car sometime in the future is not beyond expectation. To that degree we're allowing building that in as part of the car's future. There's risk, of course, that you compromise and you're not going for pure out-and-out car, but I think for everybody there's a certain degree of uncertainty about the new engine regulations in particular, and which route is the most appropriate to take.”
Hayden also confirmed the R-One's engine solution for its maiden season could change for 2015.
“The engine that we start off with in the first year of running in 2014 may not be the engine that we run them in '15 or beyond,” he said. “And we wouldn't want to spend a huge amount of money on a car but then couldn't be adapted in some way to accept a different installation. It's a long-winded way of saying we're trying to optimize the '14 package aerodynamically around the engine installation but want to allow the ability to install different engines later on.”
Unlike the factory entrants, privateer cars like the R-One are not required to use an energy recovery system (ERS) in 2014, which is a benefit for Rebellion and others that would rather wait and see if the costly ERS solutions are worth adopting.
“We decided rather early that we were going to put ourselves firmly in the non-hybrid column of the regulations, and that means that we can take a 20kg weight break and also an additional fuel allowance per lap; and we believe that for privateers with limited resources going down the hybrid route is a difficult and costly way to go,” said Hayden. “We're hoping that if there is still a difference in the performance between ourselves and the factory cars that there's small room for the ACO to adjust the regulations, particularly if we're the only privateers there then hopefully they can hear our plea and make sure that we get even more of weight break or fuel to make us competitive.
“It may be well that, beyond '14, it becomes apparent that to make it work you have to put yourself in one of those hybrid columns. And from the conversations that we've had with various people, they all say if you're going to go hybrid you need to go big; no point dallying about going small. So that has all sorts of interesting possibilities but it's not something that we're really looking at really hard at this stage.”
With the deletion of the P1 class from the new United SportsCar Championship, the R-One, at least in its intended form, will be unable to compete in the Prototype class, but Hayden is open to exploring Rebellion's options to fielding the car in P2 configuration.
“The other thing is we've got half an eye on how the regulations in the U.S. are going to settle down during 2014,” he said. “We've enjoyed our races there the past season and a half, and so in 2015 it may well be that we look to whether there's an opportunity there as well – and we'd want to do that with this car if we could. We wouldn't be able to do it as a P1 car but if there is a way of perhaps adapting what we have to make it comply with whatever the new regulations are, then we want to have that option as well.”