The revolutionary DeltaWing Le Mans sportscar is ready to hit the road – the car set to conduct its first full-scale rolling-road wind tunnel test next month.
The first set of the uniquely designed-and-built Michelin tires have been delivered – the final component required to conduct wind tunnel testing with the actual racecar.
Featuring front tires that are remarkably only four inches wide, the tires have been designed and built by Michelin in France.The car will make its race debut at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans – the car’s official entry for the race recently submitted by Project 56 – DeltaWing partner, Highcroft Racing.
“It takes a company like Michelin who have a global perspective and understanding of the importance of efficiency and personal mobility to be able to come up with a tire that meets the goals of the DeltaWing,” said Ben Bowlby - the DeltaWing designer who was recently awarded the Dino Toso Racecar Aerodynamicist of the Year award at RACE TECH Magazine's World Motorsports Symposium for his work in designing the groundbreaking DeltaWing (pictured above).
“The level of technology that Michelin can bring is second-to-none and having a company like them who have an incredible racing heritage and an outstanding road car business is a perfect match for us.
“What they have done for us is completely incredible and I can’t wait to see these tires in action very soon.”
The full-scale DeltaWing racecar will soon leave its development headquarters at Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers in California to head to the Windshear facility in Charlotte, North Carolina for testing.
“The tunnel test is the next step in finalizing the aerodynamics of the design to confirm the car will do exactly what we are expecting,” Bowlby said.
“We have already completed extensive CFD development (Computational Fluid Dynamics), simulation testing and scale model wind tunnel work at All American Racers.
“The time has come to bring the real car to life and the first step is to run the car at Windshear at full size on a moving ground plane wind tunnel. We’ll have the real Michelin tires, the real suspension, the real bodywork and cooling systems – everything that you will see on the car at the race track.
“The plan is to ensure the simulations we have done meet reality.”
The unique DeltaWing car features half the weight, half the horsepower, half the aerodynamic drag and significantly reduced tire use and fuel consumption compared to a traditional prototype sportscar.
Technical personnel from Michelin, transmission partner EMCO Gears and the DeltaWing engine partner will be on site at the first track test that is scheduled to follow the wind tunnel visit.
“Michelin races to learn and races to win,” said Silvia Mammone, Michelin motorsports manager and project leader for the Michelin DeltaWing.
“There is tremendous focus in the auto industry worldwide on making vehicles lighter without sacrificing performance, and we hope to learn a great deal from our collaboration with the DeltaWing program.”
Additional details regarding the car’s engine and test drivers will be revealed in the near future.
“Our goal with the car is to use a small capacity modern power train. An ideal example of this is a 1.6 liter turbo direct injection in-line four cylinder engine,” Highcroft Racing’s Duncan Dayton said.
“We have an engine in place from a major OEM – we can’t reveal details at this stage until the manufacturer is ready to make their announcement.
“However, we are very excited about what we have as dyno-testing has shown the engine exceeds all of our expectations in terms of efficiency, weight and power.”
The DeltaWing – Project 56 partnership features DeltaWing designer, Ben Bowlby; Duncan Dayton from two-time American Le Mans Series championship winning team, Highcroft Racing; racing legend Dan Gurney and his All American Racers organization who has built the car and American Le Mans Series founder, Don Panoz.
“This is a very significant step from a tire manufacturer like Michelin to show that experimentation in motorsport has a place in positioning a corporation as a leader in technological innovation,” Panoz said.
“Motorsport can change people’s opinions and transform the perception of certain technologies.
“Light weight and efficiency is the cornerstone of future road car development. The DeltaWing is a perfect fit for that.
“This is about breaking new ground and the journey and lessons learned from the entire program.
“All our partners are demonstrating outstanding technological innovation leadership and we are thrilled to have their support.”