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Colton Herta Becomes Indy Lights Youngest Race Winner with AER’s Mazda MZR-R Power

170312 - Herta Leads Indy Lights, Crop - 16C_3247

BASILDON, ESSEX (14 March 2017) – Second-generation racer Colton Herta had lots of challenges to deal with on his way to taking the 2017 Indy Lights series point lead at the St. Pete Grand Prix this past weekend – the challenging Florida street circuit was sight-unseen, he was surrounded with other talented young drivers and he had to manage restarts after caution periods. But one thing the 16-year-old rookie never had to give a thought to was the reliability and performance of the 450-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged Mazda MZR-R engine that powered him to second place in the Saturday season-opener and the following day made him the youngest-ever race winner in the series’ 31-year history.

Herta, who raced successfully in Europe during the past two seasons, qualified fifth for Saturday’s race and worked his way to the second step on the podium behind fellow series rookie Aaron Telitz, praised the feature of the Mazda MZR-R that permits drivers to briefly (and for a limited number of times in a race) boost horsepower for overtaking a competitor. “The push-to-pass really helped,” Herta said following Saturday’s race.

Herta started from the pole on Sunday and led from flag to flag, though under heavy pressure all the way from 2016 series championship runner-up Santi Urrutia. “I wish it would have been a little easier but it was good to get experience with all those restarts on cold tires.”

Colton’s father, Bryan, was the 1993 Indy Lights champion, as well as a multiple race winner during his 13-year Indy car driving career and twice the Indy 500 winner as a team owner.

The AER-designed, manufactured and supported Mazda MZR-R in Herta’s Dallara IL-15 delivers the same performance, bulletproof reliability and economical operating costs as those of his fellow competitors.

“This was a great way to start the season,” said Dan Andersen, whose organization operates the Mazda Road to Indy program that includes as its top rung the Indy Lights series. “One of the keys to the success of the series is having engines that are equally matched in performance, completely reliable and economical for our teams. It’s easy for an engine supplier to do two of those three things, but a challenge to meet all three requirements. This is our third season working with AER and I know how hard everyone there has worked over the two seasons to provide Mazda engines that let all of our racers compete on a level playing field.”

A new feature for 2017 to the trackside support AER provides for the Indy Lights teams is a dedicated technical trailer where team technicians can meet with AER support staff between on-track sessions to discuss engine calibration and other matters. In previous seasons the AER staff worked out of the Andersen Promotions trailer.

“We are always looking for ways to improve the level of service we provide the Indy Lights teams,” said Michael White, North American Programs Manager for AER. “This is one way we can make things more convenient for the teams.”

White noted that pre-season Indy Lights testing, held earlier in the month, had confirmed the effectiveness of several process and technical improvements made by AER to the Mazda MZR-R engine over the winter. He also expressed optimism regarding this coming weekend’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring where the SpeedSource Mazda Prototype team will be starting its second race with the new Mazda RT24-P DPi. “We had zero engine issues on either of the cars over the course of the entire race meeting at Daytona, so we are encouraged for Sebring.”

At the International Motor Sports Association’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona last month, the team’s AER-designed and built Mazda MZ-2.0-T engines never missed a beat and the team was in contention for overall victory until a chassis-side oil line failed.

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AER’s Mazda MZ-2.0T Flawless at Daytona

24 Hours of Daytona

BASILDON, ESSEX (3 February 2017) – While chassis-related teething problems meant the final standings for last weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona failed to reflect the potential of the new Mazda RT24-P IMSA DPi chassis, the Mazda MZ-2.0T engines (designed, manufactured and supported by Advanced Engine Research) in the pair of IMSA Dpi prototypes never missed a beat in practice and qualifying and then ran trouble-free for a combined 1,000 laps – 3,560 miles – during the race the opening race of the 2017 WeatherTech Sportscar series.

Although some early press reports misidentified an engine failure as the cause of the retirement of one of the SpeedSource team’s cars, in fact the engine correctly shut itself off when it sensed low oil pressure following a chassis-side oil-line rupture.

“At the end of last season we committed to an enhanced development program for the MZ-2.0T,” said AER Managing Director Mike Lancaster. “Because changes in IMSA’s technical regulations meant all-new chassis designs for 2017, we wanted to be sure we were providing our client with the most reliable possible engines so the team could focus on working out the inevitable bugs that come with a brand-new car. All of us at AER are pleased we were able to successfully deliver that to SpeedSource and Mazda.”

An initial clutch and transmission failure dropped the #70 SpeedSource car down the running order and a recurrence of the gearbox problem stopped the car with 30 minutes remaining in the 24-hour race. The retirement of the #55 car was more spectacular. Chafing of a chassis-side oil line while the car was running in fifth place overall led to a substantial oil leak and subsequent fire.

“These are the sorts of things that happen with new cars,” said Mike White, AER’s manager of North American programs. “We know the team will be working hard in the six weeks between now and the 12-hour race next month at Sebring, and we are committed to providing them with reliable and powerful engines.”

Practice for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring opens on March 12 and the day-into-night race runs on Saturday, March 18.

White also noted that the week prior to Sebring the Indy Lights series, top step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder program, will open its 2017 season in Florida at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, following open tests at Homestead Speedway late this month and early next. This marks the third season that AER has supplied the 450-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged Mazda MZR-R leased engines used by all competitors in the series-specified Dallara IL-15. “As part of our commitment to providing a cost-effective program for the series and the teams that race in it, the MZR-R was designed and developed to run without maintenance, other than regular oil and coolant changes, the entire 16-race season plus additional test days.”

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Mark Ellis Appointed Technical Director of Advanced Engine Research

BASILDON, ESSEX (25 January, 2017) – Dr. Mark Ellis has been named to the newly-created position of Technical Director for Advanced Engine Research, Ltd. Ellis, whose relationship with AER goes back to 2009, has most recently held the title of Senior Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering at London South Bank University, while maintaining a consulting relationship with AER. He will be responsible for technical leadership within the company, including reliability and performance development. Ellis will have a significant role in business strategy as well as development of future engine projects. He will also have line management responsibility for engineering personnel and will lead design, simulation, performance-development, and engine-testing.

“Mark’s return to full-time status with AER represents another step forward for our company,” said AER managing director Mike Lancaster in making the announcement. Lancaster noted that Ellis’ longtime integrated involvement in the academic and professional engineering worlds gives him a rare perspective and approach to the challenges inherent in motorsport.

“In his new role Mark will be a key contributor to AER’s growth, while fulfilling our commitment to maintaining the ‘small-company’ benefits of flexibility; rapid response times to new engine projects and requests; technical capability across the board; personal face-to-face customer experience; and expanding our company’s capabilities in new markets across the world.”

“I am very pleased to be returning to a full-time role at AER,” Ellis said. “Many aspects of AER’s business have improved greatly during recent times. I already have a good working relationship with many among the current staff and huge respect for the staff’s individual and collective expertise, professionalism and overall capability. These existing positive relationships will permit me to immediately focus on leading our programs for both engine performance development and reliability.”

Ellis first joined AER in January, 2009 and was later named the company’s Chief Engineer. During his tenure in that position Ellis was involved with a number of major projects, including one for an F1 client for the design, manufacture and testing of a prototype engine to evaluate proposed Formula 1 turbocharged engine rules. He also oversaw the evolution of the existing P70 and P80 Le Mans Prototype-class engines.

Expanding on Lancaster’s remarks, Ellis noted that “Throughout my career I have been involved in industry and academia, to the mutual benefit of both types of organization. I have been able to bring relevant and up-to-date examples of work and case-studies from Industry to the lecture room whilst working in academia, which in turn has continually reinforced my theoretical knowledge and awareness of state-of-the-art processes which I’ve then been able to bring back into industry.

“I have been exposed to various engineering disciplines through academic work and colleagues,” Ellis continued, “some different to those normally encountered in a race-engine company. A broader awareness of engineering has proved beneficial in addressing potential solutions to engineering problems in the workplace. At the same time, I have been fortunate to have worked with many talented engineers and technicians in motorsport, and have learnt greatly from them.”

In remarks following his appointment, Ellis made several points about the advantages AER offers the motorsport community, including the company’s ability to offer high-end technology mechanical and electronic systems at competitive prices.

“The company is practically unique for its size in having the technical capability in design, simulation and test to be able to undertake clean-sheet design engine products, whilst supported by dedicated manufacturing and build capability,” Ellis said, noting the company’s history in top-level motorsport – it’s products have been competing on race tracks and in the marketplace since 1999 – and its excellent reputation among its peers in the industry. He further noted that AER’s sister company, Life-Racing, enables AER to offer integrated packages, including not just ECU, data-acquisition, and engine looms, but also full chassis integration. This allows a degree of mechanical and electrical performance development normally only exploited by much larger organizations.

Ellis is a chartered mechanical engineer whose qualifications, in addition to 20 years professional experience, include BEng(Hons), PhD CEng and FIMechE. He and his family reside near Basildon, Essex.