The Winning EDGE

Castrol has a long and impressive history of providing exceptional lubricants to support exceptional endeavours not just in motorsport, but wherever there is a significant challenge. Castrol have played a part in successes from setting world land speed records, to Le Mans Championships and extending to the outer reaches of space lubricating the Mars Rover vehicles.

THE AUSTRALIAN STORY

Castrol Australia has a long history of locally developed lubricants that support Motorsport in this country. It is well understood that the lubricants used in vehicles complying with recent emission standards are trending to ever lower viscosities, but what is happening to lubricants used in Motorsport?

Both Motorsport technology and road car development have progressed significantly since the 80s when Larry Perkins’ and Peter Brock’s Castrol backed VH SS Commodore were winning Bathurst 1000 races. It was from this gruelling testing ground that both Castrol GP 50 & Castrol SAF-XA were developed. 

These two stand out formulations have evolved since their introduction. Their current brand names are Castrol EDGE 25W-50 and Castrol Syntrax 80W-140 and both products continue to deliver their race proven performance.

As with all racing categories, teams continually push for more performance. To this end, Castrol supplied engine oils such as Castrol SLX 0W-30 and Castrol TXT 10W-40 which were used in Russel Ingall’s Commodore (right).

Various developmental grades specifically formulated for motorsport were also tried in close consultation with the teams. These lower viscosity grades provided equally strong performance in these arduous conditions.

UNCOVERING THE IDEAL OIL

Today, Castrol Partners with Kelly Racing to provide performance lubricants for their V8 Nissan Altima Supercars. The move by this team from Holden to Nissan was as big a change for the Supercar category as it was for Kelly Racing. Moving from a well understood platform of push rod V8s with roller rockers, to a relatively unknown overhead cam and timing chain driven V8 platform set the team a significant challenge. Castrol worked with the Kelly Racing engine development group to provide an engine oil platform that could grow with the team as they came to grips with their newly adopted engine technology.

Rick Kelly and the team have very clear requirements for Castrol on the performance they expect from their lubricants. With the introduction of the Nissan engine and overhead cam, Castrol Australia worked with their global product development and motorsport counterparts to identify candidate products which Kelly Racing could put through their thorough evaluation program. Finding a candidate oil means identifying lubricants with low foaming characteristics to suit the dry sump arrangement employed by the category, good shear stability and viscosity control over varying temperatures and conditions and great wear control to maximise component life. The oil also needs to be compatible with the DLC coatings used on various engine components.

Once the candidate oil is identified, Phase 1 in the evaluation process is to run dyno comparisons against the current Castrol developed race oil. This ensures the product provides a performance benefit worth pursuingand at the same time meets all of the Kelly Racing team’s requirements. Once satisfied with the oil’s performance in this area Phase 2 commences. Here the oil is used in one engine during practice sessions.

After the dyno testing and practice sessions, oil analysis and engine inspections are performed and Castrol engineers work with Kelly Racing to identify any issues that would result in the product not progressing to Phase 3. Phase 3 is when the oil is used in race situations.  

Finally, once satisfied with the performance of the candidate oil, the oil is then used in one engine during all further practice sessions, qualifying and finally in the punishing racing series. Again at various times in the engine’s life the oil is tested through used oil analysis, as well as engine inspections to monitor for changes in wear control  of the sensitive overhead gear and timing chains. When all of these hurdles have been cleared, the oil will be used in all race cars for theseason. For Kelly Racing and their Nissan Altima, the chosen oil is Castrol EDGE.

confidence is king

With Castrol EDGE in our engines we have absolute confidence. When things go wrong on the track we know the Castrol EDGE we use in our engines will be able to keep us running. In some races where we have had front end damage restricting airflow & cooling, we were able to race on because of the performance of Castrol EDGE.
Tony Freeman, Kelly Racing Team Engine Builder, commenting on the performance of Castrol EDGE

Tony stated “The partnership with Castrol allows us to work together to utilise improvements brought to the table. Likewise, as we push the limits of our equipment, if issues arise we can work with Castrol to identify root cause and then solutions to allow us to keep advancing.“

It’s not just engine oil that Castrol supply to the team. Driveline oils, greases, power steering fluids and brake fluids are used in the Nissan Altima on race day. Even off track Castrol is critical to the team’s success with Castrol’s Industrial lubricants, such as Hysol MB 50, used in the manufacture of key components for the race cars. For Rick Kelly, the use of Castrol’s specialties are a source of confidence. ‘The feel of the brake is dependent on the boiling point control of the brake fluid, and using Castrol React SRF Brake Fluid I know that I can brake deep into a corner and the car will pull up.'

For Engine Builder Tony Freeman, the team required ‘a partner that could support them from manufacture to race’, with Castrol being the logical choice. He went on to say;

OUR TECHNICAL AND ENGINEERING TEAM ARE THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS, BUT WHEN IT COMES TO OUR CHOICE OF OIL WE WILL ALWAYS LEVERAGE CASTROL’S TECHNICAL EXPERTISE. WE HAVE FULL CONFIDENCE IN THE CASTROL TEAM, AND IT IS FOR THIS REASON THAT WE HAVE PARTNERED TOGETHER FOR OVER 25 YEARS.