Iveco’s test cells maxxed out
12. March 2017What Italian truckmaker Iveco has taken on for this coming season of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship is quite some challenge. Starting in 2010 with purely informal engine development support for Team Schwabentruck, led by truck racing enthusiast Schorsch Glöckler, head of training at Iveco’s Ulm plant for many years, the engagement between the two has grown into a close-knit professional partnership. Veteran racer and thrice European champion Gerd Körber, brought on board from the get-go, probably had visions of a more leisurely career at the time. But early successes, and the staggering popularity Schwabentruck has enjoyed among the fans from the start, brought with them the pressure of having to perform to ever-increasing expectations.
Along the way, the truck racing project also came to be viewed within Iveco as an activity of strategic importance.
But first things first. Jürg Spuler, senior engineer at FPT Motorenforschung AG in Arbon on the Swiss shores of Lake Constance, is every bit as crazy about racing as any of the Schwabentruck crew. The man responsible for developing all of Iveco’s engines has poured his energies and personal expertise into “project truck racing” from day one, and all that passion is now paying off, given the scope of Iveco’s official engagement.
Till 2012 the company in Arbon was known as Iveco Motorenforschung AG. The reorganisation of the Fiat group into the passenger vehicle company with its Fiat, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati brands; Fiat Industrial (now CNH Industrial), which encompassed not only trucks and buses but also agricultural and construction machines; and engine subsidiary Fiat Powertrain (FPT); was carried forward with the industrial engine business, including Iveco Motorenforschung AG, being carved out of FPT and merged into CNH Industrial as FPT Industrial.
The Arbon tech centre today employs more than 220 engineers. Its 35 test cells are fully occupied round the clock, round the year with development units of the Iveco engine family ranging from 3 litre powerplants to 20 litre. This is also where the new generations of the race engine will be tested to their limits.
FIA technical delegate Carlos Barros visited the facility a few days ago to inspect the engine build and certify its conformance to the regulations. Having received his approval, Spuler and his team face a sprint ahead of them. Over the next few weeks the engines will have to survive all manner of shock tests on the dynos – while the engineers do all they can to extract every ounce of additional performance. Before they are subjected to simulated race-length runs in April, however, the new Hahn-constructed racetrucks with their new engines will undergo shakedowns at the Iveco test track in Ulm.