Wirth Research is a multi-faceted, high technology, research and development company, founded in 2003, by former Simtek Grand Prix owner and Benetton F1 Chief Designer, Nick Wirth. The company specialises in research, development, design and manufacture for the motor racing industry and other high technology sectors.
Wirth Research offers flow simulation and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) services. The Business pioneers the use of advanced virtual engineering technologies, developed in-house, which enable the use of a complete simulated vehicle design, development and testing process. This approach allows new components to be tested in a virtual environment before physical parts are produced, reducing the need for wasteful manufacture of development models and prototypes. This cost effective and fast development process is called Development in the Digital Domain and has brought Wirth Research a high degree of success over a number of years. Additionally Wirth Research has developed valuable in-house resources, such as Composite Manufacturing and a leading edge Vehicle Simulator.
The Business received a Queen's Award for Enterprise having achieved growth in export sales of 378% over three years. This outstanding achievement was the result of a small number of strategic partnerships including, most significantly, the collaboration with Honda Performance Development, Inc (HPD). This partnership proved to be a winning combination from the start, delivering both the 2004 and 2005 Indy Racing League drivers and engine manufacturer's championships.
On receiving the Queens Award, Nick Wirth said, "This is really a great day for everyone involved in Wirth Research. The sustained effort needed to achieve our success is a testament to the talent and commitment of all of our associates, and reflects the growing confidence that our clients have in our services and products, of which we are immensely proud. The UK has traditionally been a centre of excellence for motor sport engineering worldwide. Wirth Research is proud to continue this tradition, and actively encourages young engineers by pursuing a policy of offering unparalleled opportunities for their development, education and hands on experience at the cutting edge of motor sport engineering".
The partnership with HPD was extended into a multi-year agreement in the American Le Mans Series where the two companies jointly designed and Wirth Research manufactured, the Acura ARX-01b Le Mans Prototype chassis for teams entered under the Acura brand. The ARX-01b won its first race in class at the 2008 Long Beach Grand Prix in April and won Acura's first overall ALMS race at the 2008 Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, USA.
For the 2009 ALMS series, Wirth Research designed a radical, all-new LMP1 prototype sports car - the Acura ARX-02a. In its first year of competition, this ground-breaking car won the driver, team and manufacturer championships in the LMP1 category. In the same season, the ARX-01b sportscar won the driver, team and manufacturer championship in the LMP2 category.
In 2010, Wirth Research completely updated the championship-winning HPD ARX-01b LMP2 sportscar in readiness for HPD's Le Mans debut. The new low-drag aerodynamic revisions were so extensive that the car was redesignated the HPD ARX-01c, and was raced in the European Le Mans Series by Strakka Racing and in the ALMS by Highcroft Racing. The car took a sensational 1-2 in Le Mans qualifying, beating the 3rd place car by over 6 seconds. In the 2010 Le Mans race, Stakka Racing ARX-01c broke all LMP2 records on its way to a class victory, finishing over 6 laps in front of the 2nd placed car. In the USA, Highcroft Racing took the ARX-01c to win their 2nd straight ALMS championship.
For 2011, HPD presented Wirth Research with a double challenge - the first was to adapt the Le Mans winning LMP2 ARX-01c to take HPD's all-new road-car based V6 twin-turbo engine, creating the 2011 LMP2 ARX-01d. The second challenge was to create the strongest possible LMP1 version of the ARX-01c for customers, which resulted in the 2011 LMP1 ARX-01e. The LMP1 car featured a new gearbox, new suspension, and all-new bodywork and had its first shakedown seven days before its debut at the legendary Sebring 12 hour race in March 2011. Racing three works Peugeots and two works Audis plus a 55-car field, the car scored a sensational second place on its debut race. This confirmed Wirth Research's ability to provide its customers with the best possible products and services.
2012 proved to be Wirth Research’s most successful year to date. The main IndyCar project goal of winning the prestigious 2012 Indy 500 with HPD was achieved with a spectacular 1-2 finish by Honda’s lead IndyCar team Target Chip Ganassi Racing. In sportscars, the all new HPD ARX-03a LMP1 car dominated the 2012 ALMS in the hands of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. In addition, Level 5 Motorsports were triumphant in the LMP2 class of the ALMS. In the inaugural 2012 World Endurance Championship (WEC), Starworks Motorsport’s sole LMP2 HPD ARX-03b overcame a highly competitive group of Nissan-powered teams to secure HPD the 2012 LMP2 World Championship title. In doing so, HPD became the first North American World Championship winning company in 44 years.
2013 saw the HPD ARX sportscars retain both the LMP1 and LMP2 manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles in the final season of the American Le Mans Series. Muscle Milk Pickett Racing celebrated winning the ALMS LMP1 title with its HPD ARX-03c, while Level 5 Motorsports secured its third consecutive LMP2 championship with its HPD ARX-03b. Strakka Racing put on a public show of private success to take top Privateers' honours at the Le Mans 24 Hours in their HPD ARX-03c. This LMP1 win was the third Le Mans prototype class victory in four seasons.
Also in 2013, Wirth Research progressed the collaboration with HPD to provide the Honda-powered IndyCar teams with advanced chassis technical support. The success of this project was repeated when Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Dallara) won his third drivers’ championship, and Honda’s 15th Indy car drivers’ title.
In 2014, Wirth Research marked a number of “firsts”. Applying its CFD expertise to solve design challenges outside of motorsports, the company was pleased to have been invited to present one of the opening papers at the prestigious Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) 2014 conference in Shanghai. In motorsports, ESM entered the HPD ARX-03b in the inaugural Tudor United Sportscar Championship. In April, the Honda Performance Development ARX-04b LMP2 Coupe was unveiled, the latest sportscar design from Wirth Research. In September, Wirth Research was involved in the world’s first FIA Formula E Championship in Beijing, providing Andretti Autosport Formula-E with engineering support services for the series. Andretti’s Franck Montagny took second place and his team mate Charles Pic came fourth in the first race, giving Andretti the lead in the teams’ championship. In IndyCar, Honda Anchor team Andretti Autosport won the Grand Prix of Alabama, the Indy 500, and the Indy 300.
In 2015, the IndyCar project continued with engineering support and the development of the "new for 2015" aerodynamic bodywork kits, which were launched in March.
Continuing to apply its CFD expertise to new non-motorsport challenges, Wirth Research launched its all-new WR AEROKIT™ at the Commercial Vehicle Show in April 2015, with Eddie Stobart Ltd, the first adopter of this new technology with an exclusive strategic partnership. Fitted to an unkitted truck from new, the WR AEROKIT™ reduces the aerodynamic drag of HGVs by 33%.
2016 will see a number of exciting new developments in all the sectors in which we operate: Motorsport, Commercial Vehicles, Refrigeration, Defence and Aerospace, Architecture. Look out for forthcoming announcements we will be making with some of our blue chip clients, existing and new.