While racing at Lake Gairdner in 2018 it became clear that there was opportunity to develop our land speed race bike further.
I was happy with the upgrades we had made. The engine performance, tuning and custom-made controls were all working perfectly. But as I reached 5th gear for the first time on the track I could tell there was so much more opportunity in this bike. So, within 6 months of returning home I had stripped the bike and started working on a redesign.
We soon received word from Dry Lakes Racers Australia (DLRA) that they were making changes to their rule book from 2019 onward. They also requested expressions of interest from racers for a World Speed Trials weekend which would be held at Lake Gairdner in 2020. Of course we were interested!
There was so much more development I had wanted to put into the bike before heading to the salt in 2018. Now it was time to put it all into action and chase my dream of setting a world land speed record, while smashing my own Australian record in the process. But ambitious plans such as these don’t come easy. We had a lot of work to do and with so many adjustments to consider and implement time was flying by.
I wanted to develop an aero package that could match the power of the bike. With more downforce we planned to eliminate the wheel spin I had experienced at top speed and with more streamlining we planned to leave a smaller wake and reduce drag.
Rather than going with an off-the-shelf fairing solution we decided to design our fairings from the ground up. Our plan was to develop the aero package and return to Lake Gairdner for Speed Week 2019 so that we could test the changes and have a whole year to fine tune and make adjustments ahead of the World Speed Trials. It was always going to be an ambitious approach, but we decided to tackle it head on, knowing this gave us a huge opportunity to develop our capability and have the biggest possible impact to our top speed.
We were introduced to Sammy Diasinos, an aerodynamicist and the founder of Dynamic Aero Solutions, through friends involved in the World Time Attack Challenge (an annual event which attracts international race teams to Sydney Motorsport Park with the challenge of setting the fastest lap). Sammy was well known for his success at WTAC and while Sammy hadn’t worked on a motorcycle before, we knew he was up for the task having previously worked in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for Williams, Toyota and Caterham Formula 1 teams. He had also previously contributed to Sunswift eVe, the fastest electric vehicle to complete a distance of 500km (FIA land speed record).
We enlisted Sammy’s help and had the motorcycle 3D scanned and digitally modelled with me sitting on the bike in racing position so that Sammy could simulate the conditions upon which we had set our Australian land speed record. Once we were satisfied that the model and environmental parameters matched our record run, we then checked the regulations for allowed fairing and fender extents before exploring a range of design options. Extensive simulations proved our expectations correct that with several aerodynamic adjustments we could eliminate the wheel spin experienced on the track, reduce drag, increase downforce and dramatically increase our projected top speed.
Drag racer Terry Jackson from IM Composite Technologies helped us assess and fine-tune the options. To ensure the fabricated fairings and fender would match the 3D model precisely, we had foam plugs made (CNC cut from the 3D design files) from which Terry would form the moulds to create the final carbon fibre components.
Unfortunately, by the time the foam plugs were ready there wasn’t enough time to make the carbon fibre components and complete all the other necessary adjustments to complement the new aero package in time for Speed Week 2019. James and I were gutted to abort our plans to test on the salt in 2019 but we remained excited by the progress we had made towards our world land speed record attempt in 2020.
As the year progressed several other adjustments were made to complement the new aero package. We opted for a higher, flatter riding position with a custom tank which allows a lower helmet position. Handlebars and foot pegs have been brought inward to reduce frontal area. We changed to a pneumatic gear shifter to support the new riding position and built a new solid rear swingarm.
In 2018 I had used an aftermarket 2-into-2 exhaust due to limited time. To complete the engine upgrade I wanted to design and fabricate a 2-into-1 performance exhaust system. I calculated the optimum diameter and length of the exhaust for the engine configuration at our projected top speed and set about designing the system. The headers were measured to precision, providing equal pipe lengths to the collector. The collector was then designed to manage air flow and pressure returning through the system.
Finally, we installed an Emtron engine management system compete with MIL spec wiring and a range of sensors to enable data collection on how the engine is performing, how the aero package is working and how the motorcycle is handling under race conditions.
Our LSR1 MKII race bike was strapped onto the dyno at Emtron Australia on 14 March 2020. After a long day we had successfully tuned the first Harley-Davidson in the world with an Emtron engine management system.
With final preparations now being made, having spent over a year redesigning and rebuilding our LSR1 race bike, our team will test the bike at Sydney Dragway before returning to Lake Gairdner for the World Speed Trials with a targeted top speed of 200 mph (321 km/h).