DeltaWing To Race Le Mans In 2012

If you're planning a Le Mans trip next year, watch out for a 'low-flying aircraft' mixing it up with the old-school racers.

The radical DeltaWing created by former Lola designer Ben Bowlby was originally mooted as an innovative new Indy racing chassis, but now the Automotive Club de L'Ouest has confirmed a slot has been offered for the car to run at Le Mans next year where it will run in its own class.

"In 2010 the ACO Sporting Committee decided to create the garage #56 to promote new technologies," says ACO sports director Vincent Beaumesnil. "When the ACO Management met the representative of the DeltaWing project everybody thought immediately that it would be a high quality project for Le Mans Experimental entry in 2012.

"The interest of this project is based on the optimisation of all factors that have an impact of global energy consumption and efficiency of the car : weight, power, drag.

"The ACO want to give the opportunity to evaluate each technology, and this project shows that ahead of hybrid, bio fuel or electric technology - we can explore other ways to improve efficiency."

The team behind the DeltaWing project includes Dan Gurney's All American Racers and ALMS-winning Highcroft Racing, so it's got serious credentials.


Total weight: 475Kg
Horsepower: 300 BHP
Wheel base: 2.90m
Aerodynamic drag: Cd 0.24
Front track: 0.6m
Rear track: 1.7m
O/A length 4.65m
O/A width 2.00m
Height 1.03m
Brakes: Carbon discs and pads
Fuel cell capacity 40 litres
Chassis construction: lightweight composite
Front tire: 4.0/23.0 R15
Rear tire: 12.5/24.5 R15
Weight distribution: 27.5% Front (72.5% Rear)

Key Technical Features

* Engine and transmission are "non-stressed members" of the chassis structural design which allows teams to install a wide variety of lightweight powertrains
* The car features a liquid cooled 4 cylinder 1600cc intercooled turbocharged engine that will produce approximately 300 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and weigh 70kg
* Transmission is a 5 speed plus reverse longitudinal design with an electrical sequential paddle shift actuation. The differential features an efficient variable torque steer/differential speed-controlled planetary final drive reduction layout with the entire transmission weighing only 33kg
* Vehicle weight distribution is necessarily more rearward than traditionally seen with 72.5% of the mass on the larger rear tires
* 76% of the aerodynamic downforce acts on the rear of the car which has an lift to drag ratio of >5.0
* Rear wheel drive coupled with the rearward weight and aerodynamic distributions greatly enhances inline acceleration capability
* Unique amongst today's racing cars more than 50% of the vehicles braking force is generated behind the center of gravity giving a dynamically stable response
* Locking propensity of the un-laden front wheel at corner entry is greatly reduced due to virtually no front lateral load transfer with the narrow track & wide rear track layout, steered wheel "scrub drag" moment is virtually zero greatly increasing tire utilization and reducing mid turn understeer
* Advanced computer modeling of structures, impact energy management, aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics and tires has been used to develop the DeltaWing design
* Driver position, restraint layout and energy absorbing structures designed to meet the latest occupant survival criteria

Comments (73) Join the discussion on the forum

  • masseyis 02 Aug 2011

    Oh, but please make it free for anything < 1K - PH is the home of the shed, can you keep it that way?

  • Mojoker 17 Jun 2011

    The people behind this project know what they're talking about. Read the various articles by Gordon Kirby where he interviewed and reviewed all the main entries for the future of Indycar (or whatever they're called)

  • urquattro 11 Jun 2011

    bsdnazz said:
    First things first, Ben and I are first cousins so anything I say will be slightly informed and obviously biased!

    Firstly, there's the WWW site.

    Ben has lots of experience designing, building and in his early days driving race cars. Starting with his Special Saloon SC100 and Vauxhaul Clubmans that he built as a teenager and university student he then moved to Lola designing Indy 500 winning cars and finally on to the cars he designed and built at GForce. Then there's the wind tunnel in a tunnel and now Delta Wing.

    The delta wing car is a very interesting concept and is an attempt to design a racing car from scratch.

    The principle idea behind the Delta Wing car is to reduce drag. Instead of high down force, high drag, high power cars what would happen if you started with low drag as the main aim? How can down force be obtained and how much power would be needed to get decent racing speeds?

    The short answer is 235MPH with 325BHP and out accelerate a 2010 Indy car with 630BHP!

    A lot of thought has gone into the design and I'm really looking forward to seeing it as Le Mans in 2012.
    Wish Ben was my cousin so I could follow this within a family environment. the guy has such credentials that rubbish issue have been dealt with, particulary the steering efficiency.
    Great and I am sure this car will funtion and has more than an even chance of being at LM in 2012.
    Brilliant, Aston Martin have dropped a major, going there and both car/engine packages failing embarrissingly early, should not have been there if not engineered. Bad publicity AM !!

  • bsdnazz 11 Jun 2011

    lonefurrow said:
    OK, couldn't find the whole programme, but here's an interesting excerpt, particularly in historical context to what he is doing now...
    There were two Channel 4 programs in the Equinox series - the Dyslexic Engineer and the Nuts and Bolts of Ben Bowlby. I've not found either in full online.

  • lonefurrow 10 Jun 2011

    lonefurrow said:
    But thank you ACO for allowing/promoting something different - modern racing is so restricted in design compared to 20+ yrs ago.

    Also, anyone remember the Equinox doc from about 1989 on Ben Bowlby? I seem to remember that the narrative was around him doing an OU engineering degree and building his own car for the Clubmans class, and that Lola offered him a job at the end of it. Off to check You Tube...
    OK, couldn't find the whole programme, but here's an interesting excerpt, particularly in historical context to what he is doing now...

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