Radical DeltaWing racer to challenge Le Mans in 2012
As a stellar field of conventional prototype and GT cars prepares to take the green for this weekend's running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a new player is waiting in the wings. An outgrowth of the revolutionary DeltaWing single-seater design offered to but ultimately rejected by the IZOD IndyCar Series, this latest iteration has been recast as an equally unconventional two-seat prototype racer that's been invited to take part in the 2012 Le Mans enduro as an experimental entry.
"The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) has shown great vision in creating an opportunity for an innovative and experimental vehicle such as the DeltaWing to participate "outside the classifications" in this famous event said Ben Bowlby, the concept's originator. "The race has a long and glorious history, featuring the most advanced and technologically relevant racing cars. We are thrilled to have been invited to join the list of innovators and to honor the Spirit of Le Mans."
"We are pleased to announce a licensing agreement with the "Project 56 Partners" to utilize the DeltaWing design and technology for their participation in the 24 Heuers du Mans in June, 2012." said Bowlby. Project 56 -- named after the Number 56 garage that's assigned to the out-side-the-box entry that complements the 55 official entries -- includes a number of primo names in the world motorsport scene. The group includes Dan Gurney and his All American Racers, Dr. Don Panoz, who heads Panoz Auto Development and was the creator of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), and Duncan Dayton's Highcroft Racing operation. While the design basics for the Project 56 program are now in place, the U.S.-based team still needs to secure an engine supplier to complete the mix.
Like his stillborn IndyCar design, the DeltaWing Le Mans prototype variant remains true to Bowlby's original vision of building a race car of tomorrow that offers far superior overall efficiency without sacrificing performance. It's based on a package that's virtually 50-percent lighter and has half the aerodynamic drag of its conventional competitors, design elements that not only also allow it to reduce engine size (expect a 300-horsepower/1.6-liter turbocharged four) and subsequent fuel use by an equally dramatic proportion but also makes for a simpler and more cost-effective configuration. Nothing is sure in racing, but if computer simulations turn out to be valid predictors of its on-track potential, the novel DeltaWing of Project 56 Partners entry could turn out to be one of the legends of modern motorsport.