This item’s title is rather reminiscent of a generic sci-fi movie, but the much-discussed Delta Wing will appear at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The eyebrow-raising project received a shot in the arm with the support of Japanese giant Nissan, which will supply the engine for the concept that intends to turn motor racing on its head.
A GAME OF HALVES
‘Plan Delta Wing’ sounds as simple as it is ambitious. The team behind the Delta Wing want to create a car that achieves the performance of a Le Mans prototype, with half the weight, drag, power and fuel consumption. High-end performance and straight line speeds through maximum aerodynamic efficiency and a ‘mere’ 300 bhp 1.6 litre turbocharged engine featuring direct injection.
To achieve its goal it obviously takes a dramatically different design than we are used to see on track. The car has a jet fighter-like appearance and features an extremely narrow front track and skinny front tyres with a view of eliminating as much drag as possible to do away with high horsepower requirements. From a frontal point of view the Delta Wing looks very ‘slippery’ and with a weight of only 475 kg, acceleration and cornering characteristics should be quite spectacular.
MUSIC TO THE INDUSTRY’S EARS
The man behind the Delta Wing is British engineer Ben Bowlby, who designed plenty of Champ Cars and other single seaters and prototypes during his time at Lola, after which he spent a few years as technical director of IndyCar powerhouse Target Chip Ganassi. For the last three years, Bowlby worked on a concept that requires a completely different approach to motor racing. One that sounds as music to the ears of the automotive world, where fuel efficiency has increasingly become a key element in car design.
The Delta Wing was considered as the new IndyCar chassis, but the series decided to stick with a known quantity and go for a traditional Dallara design. Time will tell whether that is a missed opportunity or not, but the radical Delta Wing definitely seems to attract the kind of media and fan attention that IndyCar desperately needs.
For Le Mans the Delta Wing has been granted ‘Garage 56’, an exceptional 56th entry granted to support innovative concepts and technologies. The triangular Delta Wing certainly is exactly that. The car will be run by American Le Mans Series squad Highcroft Racing and feature the team’s Marino Franchitti and Nissan works driver Michael Krumm in its line-up. The car will run with number zero and will not be considered in the results, but it will be interesting to see how it performs at one of the most demanding races in the world. If the design works it will likely change the future of the entire industry.