Lubricants are often the difference between success or failure on the track. That’s why Motul’s Racing Lab is so popular. This mobile unit is deployed at racing events around the world to help give teams a competitive edge – and it’s free of charge to use, even if you’re not a Motul customer. At this year’s Goodwood Revival, the Motul Racing Lab was in the historic Motul bus, converted to offer prompt and accurate testing for the competitors. We caught up with Alexander Hornoff, Motul’s Head of Technical Department Germany & CEE, to find out why the service is so important – and hear about a rather unusual visitor to the lab.
Alexander, how many oil analysis did you do at the Goodwood Revival?
We were busier than we were at The Classic at Silverstone. Yesterday we did about 30 analyses on Friday and a little bit more on Saturday. And at least another 30 on Sunday.
Have people been surprised by what they have discovered?
We saw a lot of bad results so then we have to break the bad news to the customer.
Does that convert people to use Motul?
Yes, or just to change their behaviours regarding oil changes and maintenance. This is, in many cases, the reason why the wear and tear is ongoing. When you do the oil change for a classic car after the season, you bring out all the impurities. But if you do it in spring, that means your car stands for a few months with all the dirty engine oil, and this can cause additional wear and cause damage.
We hear you also had a surprise vehicle in for an oil analysis…
Yes, we had an aircraft, a 1929 Klemm L25A. After the second world war, only two remained, one in Germany and the other in the UK.
Did the owner come in for an oil analysis?
They went through the paddock and saw our offer (of a free oil analysis). An airplane is not our normal business, we tend to stick to vehicles on land or water. The owner was happy because the results were really good. Lead was slightly elevated because those engines ran with leaded fuel for a while, so you’ll always find traces of it there. If you find lead and increased values of copper and tin, this is an indication of bearing damage. But in this case, it was only slightly elevated lead and iron values. And the threshold is made for passenger car engines and not for aero engines from the 1920s.
That’s amazing that the Motul lab can even detect potential issues with aeroplane engines…
It works on all operating fluids. We also did an oil analysis on a motorcycle fork oil because the guy was unsure if he had chosen the right viscosity.
How long does an average analysis take?
The analysis takes about 10-15 minutes. We use a rotating carbon disc to analyse the amount of wear metal and the type of wear metal. It’s very accurate and we are measuring in parts per million. The viscosity check is done at 40-degrees Celsius, and we also do an infrared test that shows the oxidation and ageing of the lubricant. With lubricants, we talk about technology, which is working in the background, so no one can see it. These tests show how our products do a perfect job. We are also doing this for other events, like the Dakar. Participants can get an oil analysis for free, no matter which oil they use. It’s very often used by the factory teams because they want to know if they have a chance to get onto the podium. Same at Le Mans. In the qualification period, we support participants during the qualifying period, especially Gibson, who we are a partner with.