Photo : P.SAIVET - VSC Pictures
The concept car unveiled last September at Petit Le Mans is simple: weight, power and aerodynamic drag halved compared to a traditional prototype, resulting in lower fuel consumption and tyre wear. The motor racing legend Dan Gurney, whose company All American Racers built the car, has partnered with Don Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans Series, and Duncan Dayton, owner of Highcroft Racing team, to develop the distinctive looking prototype.
The car was assembled in recent months and is preparing to move into the wind tunnel, but before that it needed tyres. Due to the shape of the bodywork, Michelin developed 10 inch tyres designed specifically for the DeltaWing. This is the width of the tread of front tires with a diameter of 58 cm (23 inches). By comparison, the front tyre fitted to the Audi R18, winner at the of 24 Hours 2011, has 71 cm (28 inches) tyres with tread of 36 cm.
An special tyre for a special car, as explained by Ben Bowlby, the designer who won the Dino Toso trophy aerodynamicist of the year: "The time has come to give life to the real car and the first step is to move the car to full sized wind tunnel. We have Michelin tyres, the real suspension, the true body and cooling systems, all you see on the car on the track. The aim is to ensure that the simulations we conducted are consistent with reality. "
Track testing will begin immediately after the wind tunnel with Marino Franchitti driving. The presence of the Scot is not a surprise since he drove for Panoz in 2004 and 2005 and for Highcroft Racing in 2010 and 2011. Remember the magnificent duel between two Hondas, the American Highcroft and English Strakka at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010, cut short by a mechanical problem on the American car.
Marino Franchitti, whose initial reaction to the Delta Wing was: "What's that?" Is aware of entering history through his involvement in this project: “I have nothing to compare this against. It is not something that has been done before and it kind of feels like when the first rear engine F1 car hit the track, or the first car with a wing, or the first ground effect car – the DeltaWing will be so new and unique and I am really honored to be given this opportunity”.
The first sight of the car on the track at the first practice session of the Le Mans 24 Hours is expected to attract a host of professional and amateur photographers, and all the fans who will want to say, "we were there! "
Photo : BRASELTON (GEORGIA USA), ROAD ATLANTA, PETIT LE MANS, FRIDAY 30 SEPT 2011. La DeltaWing launched at Petit Le Mans will soon take the track with Marino Franchitti.