Lamborghini Unveils First Hybrid Sports Prototype: The SC63
The luxury motoring world’s newest Italian hypercar is set to make its appearance on the track in 2024, joining a new generation of hybrid racers.
Lamborghini took to this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England to unveil to the motoring world its first ever hybrid sports prototype, the SC63. Set to begin testing early in August, the prototype is slated to compete in the Hypercar class of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Sportscar Championship in 2024.
Between a full WEC season and an IMSA campaign, the new Lamborghini marque will make its first competitive appearance racing in two out of three crowns of endurance racing, the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. It was not that long ago in the 60s when sports cars could barely complete endurance races before breaking down, forcing teams to park their cars in the pits or on the track right before the finish line to wait out the time limit before restarting their engines and risking one final crawl past the finish line. Today, the SC63 represents the dawn of hypercars in endurance racing in full bloom, being the latest contenders along with Alpine’s A242 to join 2023’s inaugural freshman cohort of LMDh entrants from Acura, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche.
The release of the SC63 is one part of Lamborghini’s roadmap for full electrification by 2028. This follows the Italian luxury motoring company’s 2022 commitment to stepping away from fuel-only cars and greater investment in reducing carbon emissions in the motoring world.
A Look Beneath The Hood
The SC63 features a newly designed 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine developed specifically for the racing program. The engine features a “cold V” configuration, meaning that the turbos are mounted outside the V-angle of the engine for ease of cooling and servicing. The “cold V” also serves to lower the car’s centre of gravity, optimising the tyre grip and balance so paramount to endurance racing.
Under LMDh regulations requiring teams to purchase a chassis from predesignated manufacturers, Lamborghini has partnered with French manufacturer, Ligier, to design the SC63’s monocoque. Lamborghini claims that it pushed for greater freedom in the design phase being Ligier’s first collaborator, such as customising the push rod front suspension and bell-housing. LMDh regulations also limit the motor output to 500kW, managed by a Bosch electronic control unit in the SC63.
Lamborghini shares that the cooling layout for the car actually decided much of the engineering and design. For example, air intakes into the side pods behind the cockpit underwent several iterations before a final design was settled upon. The SC63 is also incorporated with eight different radiators: two intercoolers, one gearbox radiator, one condenser for air conditioning, one radiator for the Energy Recovery System (ERS), one for the Energy Storage System (ESS) and two water radiators.
A notable limitation of LMHd regulations is that only a single body kit configuration is allowed, limiting the changes that teams are allowed to make race-to-race. The SC63’s design had to hence take into account the worst-case scenarios such as high ambient temperatures in managing its thermal efficiency.
As an endurance racer, the SC63 has been designed to offer the widest operating window possible, meaning that performance is only as optimised as its ability to take care of its tires even on the most aggressive track surfaces. Ahead of track testing, intense development work is already being carried out in the virtual world using a Driver in the Loop (DiL) simulator.
“Motorsport is, to us, a valuable and demanding proving ground for our technology,” states Rouven Mohr, Lamborghini’s Chief Technical Officer. “Our LMDh car, the Lamborghini SC63, is an exciting challenge from both a technical and a human standpoint… As we develop our LMDh car, we are also mindful of the technology transfer opportunities. We will take our learning experiences from motorsport and apply them where possible to car production in the future.”
Immediately Recognisable as Lamborghini
As for the bodywork, Lamborghini Squadra Corse (their motorsport division) has collaborated closely with Lamborghini Centro Stile (their design department) to “create a car that is immediately recognisable as Lamborghini”. The SC63 features clear brand styling cues throughout the car, including the iconic Y-shaped lights at the front and rear. Integrated into the side panel of the body is a NACA duct that was inspired by the air intake of the iconic Countach, since discontinued in 1990. The rear wheel arch also takes design cues from another recent newcomer to the Lamborghini family, the Revuelto coupé.
The car is finished in a powerful Verde Mantis green with a Nero Noctis black strip over the cabin, front hood, carbon diffuser, rear fin and wing. The Italian flag colours of green, white and red serve as proud embellishments, reminders of Lamborghini’s Italian heritage.
To 2024 and Beyond
Italian racing team, Iron Lynx, has extended their collaboration with Lamborghini to the LMHd category and is down to run the car in upcoming races. Iron Lynx Team Principal and CEO, Andrea Piccini, shared excitedly: “Being involved in such an ambitious project is a once in a lifetime experience. We are honoured and extremely excited to be part of it and to start a new chapter for Iron Lynx with Lamborghini. It’s been amazing to see everything finally come together for the reveal of the SC63. Everyone at Iron Lynx is eager for testing to get underway. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced as a team, and we are now looking forward to seeing the SC63 on track.”
The drivers include Lamborghini factory drivers Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli, who are joined by newcomers Daniil Kvyat and Romain Grosjean. The latter two have had recent race experiences with hybrids in Formula 1 and have been offering their feedback to the engineering team on fine-tuning the LMDh system. Starting in 2024, one car will compete in the full FIA WEC. The second car will race in the North American Endurance Championship races of the IMSA series. The SC63 marks not only 60 years of Lamborghini, but also the tenth anniversary of Lamborghini Squadra Corse. Achievements from the past decade include three class wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona, as well as two back-to-back wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Now, we look towards 2024 in anticipation of the grand battle between these hypercars of the future.
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