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12th January 2018, Munich

Going for gold with BMW’s backing

As the first car manufacturer to make use of carbon composites in mass production, BMW’s expertise is proving useful to its partner, the German Bobsleigh and Sled Sports Federation (BSD).

The BSD’s athletes have a score to settle at the Olympic Games in Korea this February 2018.

The BSD’s athletes have a score to settle at the Olympic Games in Korea this February 2018. © BMW

Four years ago, the bob athletes came away without a medal but at the three world championships which followed, Germany returned to winning ways and appears to be ready for the Olympics with help from BMW.

Considerable BMW engineering expertise has gone into the BSD’s sleds in terms of aerodynamics, ergonomics and structural analysis.

BMW has demonstrated its carbon composites expertise not only in car manufacturing and motorsport, but also in the America’s Cup, the most challenging sailing competition in the world.

Considerable BMW engineering expertise has gone into the BSD’s sleds. © BMW

Thomas Hahn, who is head of the BMW technology transfer, has spent many years working on the construction of the high-tech racing yachts for two-time America’s Cup winner Oracle Team USA and knows the challenges and the potential of carbon.

The aerospace engineer is using his specialist knowledge to support bobsleigh builder Johannes Wallner, who manufactures the two and four-man bobs for the reigning world champion bob teams Lochner and Friedrich.

The BSD’s athletes have a score to settle at the Olympic Games in Korea this February 2018. © BMW

“First, we measured and digitalised the bob, and optimised it using computer simulation,” explained Hahn. “To produce the prototypes, we used a precision mill to manufacture a negative mould that will then be used to bring the carbon fibres to the exact desired positions. This precision form guarantees that the test, measurement and race results are transparent and comparable, which means the sleds produced can be reproduced identically.”

“Over the summer we optimised the Wallner bobs for the teams Friedrich and Lochner,” said head coach René Spies. “Many ideas for improving the aerodynamics of the sleds and for the seat positions were developed and implemented. The valuable tests in the BMW wind tunnel enabled us to confirm the positive results and get that last hundredth of a second for our Mission Gold. A big thank you goes to BMW for this.”

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