Dakar Rally Gearbox Innovation: Hewland’s Transmission Expertise Drives Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

    The Dakar Rally, the pinnacle of cross-country racing, recently witnessed the debut of the all-new 2024 Formula 2 machinery, which not only boasted striking aerodynamic changes but also significant updates under the bodywork. At the heart of these advancements lies a new six-speed longitudinal Hewland sequential gearbox, replacing the previous iteration used since 2018.

    Developing this latest gearbox for the Dakar-bound Formula 2 cars presented unique challenges, particularly in meeting the FIA’s stringent crash regulations. The rear impact tests, for example, were substantially increased, necessitating a significantly different design for the gearbox case and strength. However, the underlying architecture of the gearbox remains well-proven, a key factor for motorsport transmissions.

    “Reliability and cost-per-mile ownership are the essential elements for motorsport gearboxes,” explained a Hewland spokesperson. “While the Formula 2 architecture is more simplified compared to Formula 1, it delivers a competitive and high-performance product tailored for a single-make series.”

    This focus on reliability and cost-effectiveness is especially crucial in the GT racing category, where manufacturers must sell as many vehicles as possible. For the new Lotus Emira GT4, Hewland has developed a gearbox more aligned with a TCR-type product, featuring slightly higher torque and bespoke modifications to accommodate the rear-mounted engine.

    “There’s a balancing act to provide a quality product while meeting the category’s cost requirements through efficient design and manufacturing,” the spokesperson added. “The sequential gearbox offers a differentiator in terms of product sales and performance, but we must ensure it remains accessible and cost-effective for our customers.”

    Hewland’s expertise extends beyond the Dakar and GT realms, with the company’s skillsets enabling it to work on aerospace projects and apply its learnings to the motorsport and automotive sectors. As the demand for quality and service continues to rise, Hewland is committed to staying at the forefront of transmission technology.

    While the adoption of AI in safety-critical parts remains cautious, the company is exploring its use in 3D-printed structures and more efficient manufacturing processes to enhance sustainability. “The goal of supporting our customers by making products as efficiently and reliably as possible hasn’t changed much since Hewland started out in 1957,” the spokesperson concluded.

    As the Dakar Rally and GT racing landscapes evolve, Hewland’s transmission expertise remains a driving force behind the performance and cost-effectiveness of the vehicles competing at the highest levels of cross-country and circuit racing.

    ๐Ÿ”— Source