How Motul refines its race-proven formula

How Motul refines its race-proven formula

For Motul, sponsoring a team in motorsports goes beyond a simple decal and marketing effort, as the brand requires each technical partner to use and test their products on the track. These partnered teams use the same 100% synthetic race lubricants that customers can buy in stores, and any improvements found on the track translate to the entire product range. With new North American partnerships in IMSA with both BMW M Motorsport and Pfaff Motorsports, Motul has the perfect rolling laboratories to put items like their 300V, RBF 660, and gear oils through the paces.

In January, Pfaff Motorsports completed the Rolex 24 at Daytona with their No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R. Samples of the Motul 300V 0W40 used during the entire race were sent to an independent lab to see how a full day of racing has impacted the oil. See the results below from CAT, which show that the critical elements to protect the engine had no issues standing up to the heat and stress:

According to Alec Wolff, Motul’s Technical Manager, these tests “indicates the overall health of both the engine and the oil circulating inside it.

“The first thing we’ll look for is any metals being deposited into the oil,” he explains. “This gives us a pretty good idea of what could be wearing.”

High iron readings, for example, can be a sign of premature crankshaft or cylinder liner wear. High amounts of aluminum could mean an issue with the cylinder heads. Copper usually points toward bearings, while other elements like lead and silicon can come from environmental sources like fuel or even sand ingested into the intake.

The techs also look at the oil’s viscosity throughout the test. “One of the ways we can look at the general effectiveness of the oil in an analysis is to look at the V100 number, which is a measure of viscosity,” Wolff explains. “All weights of oil have a window of viscosity they they’re supposed to hit at a given temperature. Oil that’s broken down will typically be outside that ideal viscosity range that it was when new.”

These analyses will also look at the softer elements that make up the oil itself: things like manganese, calcium, zinc, magnesium and phosphorous. These elements are often part of the oil’s additive package and help give a base oil stock its specific physical and chemical characteristics, like altering its surface tension, isolating unwanted combustion byproducts and more.

These positive results aren’t a surprise to Motul engineers, as Motul uses dyno-based simulations that run a Porsche GT3-spec engine through a preprogrammed use pattern over a set period to replicate race conditions during Motul 300V product development.

In fact, one of the company’s go-to tests is a simulation of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. During that single test, the engine is accelerated and decelerated against a load that duplicates repeated laps of Le Mans. A fully gimballed dyno rig even tilts and leans the engine to simulate g-loads experienced during cornering, acceleration and braking.

Data is captured constantly, in real time, throughout the test cycle. During the dyno tests, Motul monitors data such as horsepower and oil consumption. Highly stressed oils can break down under thermal and mechanical stresses, allowing their compound chemical components to again become individual elements.

“Shear strength is a huge key with racing oil,” Wolff explains. “The key is you want to maintain a film of oil between metal surfaces, obviously. It’s easy to do that if the oil is really thick, but you have to run bigger tolerances in the engine, and you lose real power to parasitic drag moving that thick oil around.”

Tightening up those tolerances puts more demands on the oil. “So, you want to run as low viscosity an oil as you can to cut the parasitic drag,” he continues, “but also to make that layer of lubrication between surfaces very thin, so you can have more precise tolerances. When you’re running things that tight, shear strength is a huge consideration, because the oil needs to maintain its structure to keep providing that barrier between metals.”

Ester Core technology found in the Motul 300V race oils provide that excellent shear strength and even has other inherent chemical properties that make them a good start for a high-load oil. The actual polarity of ester molecules attracts them to negative charged metal surfaces, which serves to further enhance the stability of the microscopic layer of liquid lubrication between surfaces.

It’s this level of technology, refined through years of racing development and success at tracks around the world, that give teams and drivers at all levels the confidence to trust Motul.