From Formula 1, World Rally Championship and MotoGP to endurance competitions and rally raid off-road racing, Esterline Connection Technologies – SOURIAU has long been a global supplier of car and motorcycle motorsport connectors. The market—which today represents several hundred thousand connectors a year—really took off in the early 2000s, when the advent and massive adoption of onboard electronics resulted in a need for specific connectors inspired by those used in aeronautics, according to company officials.
While aeronautics and motorsports share some technical similarities—such as vibration resistance, tightness, weight, and number of contacts—they diverge significantly when it comes to duration of use. Aircraft are built to last several decades, but racing cars change each season. As electronics are being installed in increasingly tighter spaces, connectors used in motorsports must also have a small form factor.
“SOURIAU’s 8STA Series for motorsport activities is based on MIL-DTL-38999, which is recognized as a standard specification for aeronautical connectors,” said Samuel Tournier, 8STA Product Manager. Until recently, the 8STA was available in seven shell sizes and five to sixty-eight 26-gauge contacts. The constant quest for performance in motorsports, and especially Formula 1 racing, led engineers to optimize every possible parameter, he said. With the 8STA 01, SOURIAU answers the need for an ultra-compact shell fitted with three 26-gauge contacts.
“SOURIAU’s 8STA 01 connector offers the same level of performance as all the other models in the range. The bayonet lock withstands vibrations of 10 to 2,000 Hz and has a shock resistance of 147 m/sec². Each connector is IP67 rated, withstands mechanical shocks in accordance with EIA-364-27, withstands more than 500 mating cycles, and has an operating temperature range of -55 to 175°C. The connector’s aluminum body is plated with zinc nickel in order to withstand harsh environments. In addition, the 8STA 01’s shell is 20% smaller than the 02’s shell, which is a significant gain in Formula 1 racing,” said Tournier.
Electronic equipment used in motorsport activities is reduced to the smallest size possible, and connectors are no exception to this, he continued. The receptacles fitted on the shells must take up the least possible space. The oval-flange receptacles fit as close together as possible and the thread insert version, which prevents the attachment nut from detaching, takes up less space and is faster to fit. Cable-wise, the plug is small and has a built-in rear connector, rendering it a complete connector that eliminates the need to add a rear accessory.
The 8STA 01 is available in a variety of models. The female plug and extension piece make it possible to create wiring interconnection systems for connecting electronic boxes with test, programming, or inspection benches in pit lanes and garages. Color-coded rings on plugs and receptacles ensure that the right connections are made quickly and without error. Lastly, the 8STA 01 plugs and receptacles are shielded by a protective cap.
“Motorsport activities are an exceptional test bench,” said Tournier. “They allow us to develop and validate innovative solutions that can subsequently be extended to other fields. Due to their very specific performance levels, SOURIAU’s compact and high-performance 8STA connectors open up many opportunities for use in applications such as drones and equipment carried by military personnel. The 8STA 01 strengthens the position of connector range.”