DESIGNER INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL SALVEN
We like to ask you some questions related to your latest design, the new 1/8 scale onroad cars.
Q: How many or even which 1/8 onroad cars have you designed for Serpent since you started ?
MS: The first car I was involved in designing was the Serpent Excel. It was together with the Serpent designer of that time, Ron Ton. Since then the 1/8 cars I designed where the Vector, Veteq, Vector NT, 950, 960 and 966.
Q: When did you actually start the design process of the 977 and how long did it take you in total ?
MS: I started very early actually, around beginning of 2011. It was almost like a side-project in the beginning. I wanted to make something better in every aspect. I threw away a lot of designs and ideas I didnít like 100%. In the same time we learned a lot more about geometries and set-ups and things that became a fashion like the flex system. All that was incorporated in the design all the time.
Q; When is the planned release date and whats the planned price-level ?
MS: We plan to ship in march, but our production-dep is making overhours to try to ship late february. A large 1st batch is in production with spares and optionals as well. Price will be around 5% higher than 966-TE before.
Q: what were the key goals to achieve in the new design ?
MS: I wanted the new car to be easier! Easier in all aspects, in building, in setting up, in maintainance and last but not least in driving. Beside that I also wanted it to be more reliable and faster! At the end I am happy with what we achieved.
Q; what are the main new features of the car ?
MS: The car has a better geometry which makes it easier to drive. It has a better weight distribution and a lower CG which makes it faster. We looked into every detail to find performance. Even small things. For example the brake disc is now on the rear axle. That is to reduce the effect of the turning mass only. Because it spins at about half the speed as it would do on the two-speed shaft it is a small advantage in acceleration.
Beside that I wanted to make sure to be able to replace components easy, a belt change in the rear is a piece of cake. Still if one wants he can unmount the complete rear or front end without everything falling apart.
On adjustments I tried to get rid of unnecessary things. The rear upright has one point only and the shocktowers only two in front and three in the rear. In my opinion more than enough.
We only added more adjustments in the front. Especially the front steeringblock is highly adjustable, kingpin angle, trailing or leading and offset are all adjustable without compromising the strength of parts.
We also have a unique flex system as option. Very easy to use, only one screw will make it flexy or stiff.
Another option are the rim covers. They increase downforce especially in the front.
Q; which parts are still used from the 966 platform ?
MS: Some parts of the transmission like driveshafts and wheelaxles. Also the twospeed is basically the same except the shaft. Plastic parts are the bumper and the arms of the bodymount. Not a lot actually.
Q; where did you test the cars so far and who else tried ?
MS: Personally I tested the car in October in Apeldoorn ( Netherlands) for the first time. Then we had another test in Valencia to test some updates and get more feedback. Paolo Morganti did quite a lot of testing in Florida and actually won the first race with it already. Alessio Mazzeo also tried the car in Italy. Mark Green in the UK wanted to test, but weather has been too bad.
Q: When is your 1st planned race with the car ?
MS: My first race wil probably be the Winternationals in February in Ft Myers.
Q: which are the key races for you this year ?
MS: The first major race in Ft Myers will be like the official presentation at least on the racetrack. Then of course the Euros and the worlds in Japan. I canít wait Ö..
Thanks Michael and good luck at the Winternats and all this season !!
More info and images on the 977 will follow soon.