Race report: Laguna Seca Raceway, 25 May 2021

Bruised and battered on a dark night in central California, car 59 refuses to give up and comes home P27. 

Race 4 got off to a cautious start as drivers were reminded by race officials to¬†obey the white lines and know where to bail out when¬†things go wrong.¬†Laguna Seca Raceway, a circuit built around a dry lake bed¬†and completed in 1957,¬†contains one of the most demanding sequence of turns on the calendar. Known as¬†‚Äėthe corkscrew‚Äô,¬†the¬†challenging¬†left, right, left chain of corners drops vehicles the equivalent of 10 stories over a track distance of just 450ft (137m)¬†– a combination that has a cruel habit of spitting cars into the barriers.¬†For drivers, add to this¬†–¬†the sand around the track which can spin a car with the¬†slightest¬†touch of a¬†rear¬†wheel and over 30 cars all fighting for position within a tight circuit which can be lapped in less than 85 seconds.¬†

Taking the plunge down the steep corkscrew

So, would the corkscrew throw drivers off course? You betcha! And if the track wasn’t already challenging enough, series organisers Apex Online Racing had decided to dial up the difficulty another notch by running the race under night conditions.   

A dark and difficult race

Navigating the track successfully under a pitch-black sky is helped by the powerful headlights on the GT3 cars. The same goes for drivers on normal roads finding their way on an otherwise unlit part of their journey. But what would happen if the headlights failed? It‚Äôs a scenario that we consider on our vehicle-hacking simulator, which demonstrates ‚ÄĒ in a safe and controlled environment ‚ÄĒ what it would be like to drive a car or truck that is experiencing a cyber-attack. We can tell you from experience that the lights going out unexpectedly, at speed, is a truly terrifying experience, even in a simulator. 

Threat modelling and cyber-security management 

Automotive cybersecurity standards and regulations such as ISO 21434 (Road vehicles ‚Äď Cybersecurity engineering) and UN Regulation No. 155 (Uniform provisions concerning the approval of vehicles with regards to cyber security and cyber security management system) provide frameworks for vehicle manufacturers to consider such threats.  

Browsing these documents, you’ll notice that one of the worked examples (in Annex G of ISO 21434) explores potential attack paths that could lead to a loss of road illumination during night driving and the vulnerability management employed to manage them. 

The Lamborghini headlights piercing the night

Thankfully, both headlights¬†on the Copper Horse liveried Lamborghini Huracan¬†were fully operational during race 4.¬†In¬†pre-race¬†practice,¬†a good setup¬†of the car from its¬†aerodynamics through to¬†tyre¬†pressures,¬†showed that swift¬†lap times¬†could be¬†achieved by Copper Horse¬†Racing,¬†with the car 6th¬†fastest.¬†The¬†short and tight circuit meant that qualifying ‚Äėflying laps‚Äô were impacted by traffic¬†and¬†by the end of the¬†15 minute¬†qualifying session Copper Horse‚Äôs Lamborghini was 22nd¬†on the grid¬†of 31 cars.¬†¬†

In the race itself, not everything ran so smoothly as early collisions (with other cars and barriers) meant that car 59 had to make its way to the pits twice to repair mechanical damage costing precious time.  

Glowing brakes as Copper Horse Racing’s David Rogers rounds T11 into the home straight

It was a test of mental resilience to stay the course of the race, and given the hurdles, surviving the 60 minute race was somewhat bittersweet given what could have been. The championship points gained, although small, could prove important when the series concludes on 29th June at Silverstone. 

Fireworks mark the end of a tough race which could have been so different

Mid-season review 

With four races done, we‚Äôre now halfway through the series with Copper Horse lead driver David Rogers currently 31st out of 46 entrants in the Tier 10 overall standings. At the top of the table is UK racer Dave Bramhall, who bagged another P3 finish – his fourth in four races! Scott Ullmann is in second, finally making it onto the podium after getting close in each of the previous races. And in third spot is Justin Dawson whose points took a hit after placing P36 in race one, but he‚Äôs on a mission to make up for it – scoring three P1 finishes in a row. 

Porsches dominated at Laguna Seca; Justin Dawson in car 12 leads from Scott Ullman in 222

Drivers have a fortnight in which to recharge before the next race on 8 June 2021 at the Bathurst Mount Panorama circuit in Australia. The weather conditions are not looking good… 

We were able to successfully broadcast the race from Laguna Seca live, so will continue this for the next race. If you fancy watching then check out drogersuk on twitch from 19:30 UK time. See you then! 

About the author 

James Tyrrell is a Threat Modelling Analyst at Copper Horse. 

Race report: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 18 May 2021

Best result so far for Copper Horse Racing, as David Rogers gains 12 places during the race to finish P20.

Under pressure: Car 59 had the competition on its tail for the first phase of the race

Dried off and ready for a slightly longer race 3, car 59 was lapping well in practice around Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but stringing together a clean lap during qualification proved difficult. A familiar track to Formula 1 fans, the Barcelona circuit is quick to punish mistakes with lost time. In the twisty final sector, misjudging slow corners such as the 180 degree bend starting at ‚ÄėLa Caixa‚Äô (turn 10) will soon undo any gains made earlier in the lap. And getting a clean exit out of
the final chicane is crucial to cutting the timing beam at top speed.

At the end of qualifying, Copper Horse‚Äôs 2015 Lamborghini Huracan was lined up in 32nd position, 2.874 secs off the fastest Tier 10 lap time of 01m:45s.243 set by Italian driver Gianluca Cappellini in a Porsche 991. In Tier 1, Maciej Malinowski ‚Äď also driving a Porsche ‚Äď travelled the same distance in an unfathomable 01m:42s.684.

But the race is won after 90 mins not over a single lap, and a lot can happen in that time – especially when you have a 1047m long start/finish straight terminating in a sharp right-hand turn! Plus, there‚Äôs a refuelling stop to calculate ‚Äď get it right and you‚Äôll fly home with fumes in the tank, get in wrong and it‚Äôll cost you valuable lap time.

Crunch time: Copper Horse’s white Lamborghini skirts around the carnage at turn one.
Pitstop action: refuelling added to the complexity of the 90 minute race.

Following last week’s rain-soaked race at Donington Park, competitors were happy to see a change in the weather at the Barcelona circuit. For race 3, sim-racing league organisers Apex Online Racing had dialed in dazzling sunshine, catching drivers in the eyes coming into sector 3 and driving out of sector 1.

Sunshine and clear skies: no need for windscreen wipers at race 3.

Blinding the Technology
Linking this scenario to our threat modelling work for automotive, it‚Äôs worth mentioning that it‚Äôs not only the driver that gets blinded by the sun. Bright light can trouble advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) too. There are examples on YouTube showing how Tesla‚Äôs lane change feature can fail when sun glare prevents the vehicle‚Äôs forward-facing cameras from distinguishing the white lines on the road. Similarly, Comma.ai‚Äôs ‚ÄėOpenpilot‚Äô ‚Äď a lower cost alternative for non-Tesla owners, which is based on a smartphone that looks out through the vehicle‚Äôs windscreen ‚Äď has also been observed to lose tracking under sunny conditions.

Other products besides ADAS can also be vulnerable. If you have a robot vacuum cleaner, you might want to close the curtains before letting it loose, as Terence Eden (@edent) and many other customers have found that streaks of sunlight can stop such gadgets in their tracks.

Close racing: Lamborghini and McLaren drivers battling for position

Back in Barcelona, it was hard to blame the sun for a tap on the side that nudged car 59 off the track as close racing was pushed to its limit. But even with a couple of lost places, Copper Horse Racing’s driver David Rogers was still well up on qualifying, finishing P20 and bringing momentum into race 4. It wasn’t as comfortable a drive as it appeared though, as a mischosen set of brake pads struggled to last the full 90 minutes with the car suffering from brake fade in the second half of the race.

Podium Positions and Driver of the Day
At the top of the table, Canada’s Justin Dawson took the #1 spot for the second time in a row, while P1 qualifier Gianluca Cappellini slid back one position in the race to come second. Completing the podium, for the third time in three races, Dave Bramhall finished P3.

Driver of the day ‚Äď a stat based on the number of positions gained during the race ‚Äď goes to Marc Andr√© Stoltenberg of Germany in car 24 who gained 18 places to finish P16.

Driver of the day: Marc André Stoltenberg in the black Audi takes the inside line.

Next week, the driving conditions will change again as competitors experience the league’s only night race of the season at Laguna Seca Raceway Рa scenario that will make track knowledge more important than ever and the track’s infamous corkscrew even more perilous.

Tune in next week for more updates on car 59’s progress in Apex Online Racing’s Assetto Corsa Competizione GT3 League Season 7.

About the author
James Tyrrell is a Threat Modelling Analyst at Copper Horse.

Race report: Donington Park, 11 May 2021

Copper Horse brings home its 2015 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 safely in one piece on a wet and wild evening at the Donington Park circuit. 

After¬†our¬†introduction to¬†league¬†sim racing¬†last week¬†in France at¬†Circuit Paul Ricard, car number 59¬†‚Ästdriven by Copper Horse’s¬†David Rogers¬†‚Ästwas back on track¬†for¬†race 2¬†of¬†AOR‚Äôs ACC league, season 7.¬†Same car, same driver, but¬†dramatically¬†different driving conditions¬†this time around¬†as rain hammered down,¬†threatening¬†spins at every corner.¬†

Poor Networks and eSports 

Our initial qualification was marred by a network disconnection, forcing us to the back of the grid for the race. This is¬†actually¬†something that we‚Äôve been highlighting as a strong¬†use case and¬†justification¬†for high availability 5G network slices.¬†A couple¬†of weeks ago¬†the¬†BMW¬†and Williams eSports¬†driver¬†Sami Matti-Trogen¬†lost his internet connection¬†during¬†his driving stint¬†of a¬†24 hour¬†race at the¬†N√ľrburgring, whilst in 2nd¬†place.¬†This¬†incident¬†dropped him down to 8th¬†place.¬†

Luckily the BMW team fought back to 3rd place. We‚Äôll see lots more of this in the future and it‚Äôs a timely reminder that resilience for future networks is critical ‚Äď whether it be eSports or things that affect human safety. Another related requirement for esports is parity in upload and download speeds, i.e. similar download and upload bandwidths. This is something that future networks will bring ‚Äď for 6G and beyond. We have been trying to stream our races and practice races so far but the load on the network (primarily due to poor upload speeds) has caused one drop-out mid-race during a practice. This means that for our next race we‚Äôll have to stream the replay after the event rather than live during the actual race, rather than risk a disconnect ‚Äď particularly during a 90 minute race. In the future we may try to do some ‚Äėout-of-band’ streaming over 5G by using a 5G Wi-Fi module, so watch this space. 

The Race 

With so much water on track it was always going to be a challenge to stay between the white lines, especially coming out of the sweeping right, left sequence of Hollywood and Craner Curves, where cars pick up speed on the downhill before navigating a tight right-hander at the Old Hairpin.  

Side-by-side on a tight circuit

Other tricky turns included Coppice, which appears at the top of a climb and was starved of grip under the wet conditions. Touch one wheel on the grass and you‚Äôd soon be experiencing the motion of the sim rig as it replicates the loss of traction through a sliding mechanism under the driver‚Äôs seat. 

Rear view – the spray added to the difficulties faced by all the drivers in the wet

Realism is a big part of the Copper Horse simulator as it supports our goal of safely sharing the experience of what it‚Äôs like to drive a vehicle that is being hacked. The custom setup features a number of added automotive elements including a CAN bus – a vehicle network that we have been studying in detail together with our partners in the Secure-CAV consortium.  

CAN bus is popular not just in cars, but also in elevators and even coffee machines. And the hacking simulator provides a great tool for highlighting the security risks that developers should be aware of, as well as demonstrating the mitigations that can be applied to protect the network. 

On track, the biggest danger was cars facing the wrong direction. Battling not just the other drivers, but also the grisly weather, it was a good result to finish P29 after a grizzly first lap, turn 1 crash involving most of the field severely damaged the car. 

A double-slide in front of the Copper Horse car, narrowly avoided

Weighing up the competition  

Jahn Solo of Germany and Dave Bramhall of the UK appear strong contenders for the title with both taking podium spots at Paul Ricard and Donington. Fortunes can change fast, as fellow Tier 10 driver Justin Dawson of Canada demonstrates – improving from a P36 finish in race 1 to take the top spot a week later. 

Every driver faced a tough fight against the conditions and each other

Next up in the 8 race series is a 90 minute race tonight (18th of May 2021) at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya. This time the windscreen wipers can stay off as the weather will be dry and sunny – something that can be guaranteed in the sim world! 

Hopefully we‚Äôll be able to stream live again in the next couple of weeks. We‚Äôll advertise replay streams on the @copperhorseuk twitter account. 

About the author 

James Tyrrell is a Threat Modelling Analyst at Copper Horse. 

Combining Future Automotive Security with eSports

David Rogers explains the launch of something completely different for Copper Horse and why it isn’t.. well completely different.

During the 2020 lockdown, our company was busy in the early stages of an InnovateUK project called Secure-CAV, together with our partners from Siemens, the Universities of Coventry and Southampton. The project is looking at how to secure the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) of the future, particularly at the lowest levels of the technology stack.

Using our experience in the mobile and IoT security space and particularly in hacking and securing hardware-level systems we have been working on a range of activities from real-world threat modelling through to dismantling and reverse engineering the hacking equipment used by criminals seeking to exploit vehicles in various different ways.

We had to adapt our ways of working such that we duplicated some of our equipment setups across the different partners and found new ways to collaborate. We also had access to some real vehicles which has helped us along the way.

One of the things that we wanted to do from early in the project was to be able to allow people to experience what it was like to be in a vehicle that was actively being hacked. Short of bringing people to test tracks and signing lots of insurance waivers, there aren’t many ways that this can be achieved. What we have done is to build a vehicle hacking simulator, which we’ve been able to feed telemetry from various simulators into to provide a ‘real’ physical experience. We’ll be talking a lot more about this in future blogs, but for now I want to tell you about something that came out of that work.

I have long been a big fan of different kinds of motor racing whether it be hill-climbing at Shelsley Walsh or Rallycross at Croft Circuit, so like many others during the various lockdowns, I decided to take up sim racing. This is a huge and passionate community and many of the real world racing teams are active in this esports world. Drivers including Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button and George Russell are active sim racers. Whilst this is just the start of my journey, it is really enjoyable and it is nice to be able to compete in such a great community of people from around the world. There are some incredibly skilled drivers out there that would give some of the world’s best real-world drivers a run for their money.

With our Copper Horse Racing Team, I have begun competing in the Apex Online Racing Assetto Corsa Competizione GT3 Racing League, driving a Lamborghini Huracan GT3. We are competing in Tier 10 of the league – the Tier 1 and 2 races are broadcast each week online, with commentary.

Our car displays the logos of all our Secure-CAV project partners as well as You Gotta Hack That, not forgetting That Media Group for our fantastic vehicle livery.

Car Number 59 – the Copper Horse Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3

For the simulator itself, we’re running a DoF Reality P3 motion rig, an entry-level setup of G29 wheel and pedals and triple 31″ screens supported by the lesser-spotted Nvidia GeForce 3070 video card. We’ll do a proper walkthrough of the rig in another blog as we have a very special and interesting setup.

Our first race took place last Tuesday (the 4th of May 2021). I have to be honest, it was pretty nerve racking. The lap times were fast and the action was hot at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France.

A close finish at Circuit Paul Ricard

I managed to drive a clean race without damage (despite there being absolute carnage at turns 1 and 2 which will surprise no-one in the sim racing community!) and finished 28th, which I’ll take for a first race on a track that the Lamborghini was never going to be a fan of.

Passing an injured Aston Martin at Circuit Paul Ricard

Race 2 will take place tonight (the 11th of May 2021) and is at a very wet and rainy Donington Park in the UK, for all the different drivers, ranking through Tiers 2-10. You can see last night’s elite Tier 1 race below:

Tier 1 Donington Park Race

Drivers are able to get practice sessions in to try the conditions as well as a couple of practice races. The conditions are tough for this race – 100% wet and a very tight circuit which means passing (and allowing cars through on blue flags) can be quite difficult. What I’ve been rapidly learning over the past week is that the right setups can drastrically improve laptimes. You can watch live on my Twitch stream here from 7.30pm BST: https://www.twitch.tv/drogersuk

The full race calendar can be found at: https://apexonline.racing/league/19#calendar

A hard fought evaluation race at Spa-Fracorchamps, Belgium

I’m looking forward to tonight’s race and the rest of the season, whatever happens! I hope you’ll join us on this journey over the next few months as we explain what we’re doing on future automotive security and take our car hacking rig on what should be an incredible journey!