The DeltaWing Occupies Garage 56 at the 2012 Le Mans raceEnlarge Photo
Although the engine partner for Project 56, the DeltaWing Project
designed by Ben Bowlby, supported by Don Panoz and currently under development at DanGurney's All American Racers
, still hasn't been revealed, other aspects of the car are coming together quite nicely.
During the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta in October, DeltaWing announced its affiliation with Michelin and, about a month later, revealed that EMCO Gears would be the transmission supplier.
Now South Carolina-based Performance Friction Brakes becomes the latest key partner to join the DeltaWing program, with a specific package for the car's 2012 debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the demanding and long Le Mans circuit in France.
It will be an unusual job for Performance Friction Brakes (PFC), who currently supply many INDYCAR teams, as well as some endurance entrants. With the front wheels of the car featuring only four-inch-wide tires, the brakes for the front of the car require an unusual packaging solution.
"Certainly the DeltaWing concept has shaken up the conventional thinking within the racing community," said Darrick Dong, direction of motorsports for the brake manufacturer. "PFC has approached the challenge as to how best balance the DeltaWing's braking capacity and created quite a bucket list of achievable goals. We are excited to have come up with quite a unique and innovative carbon brake system.
"Our brake configuration is very advanced and forward thinking, utilizing shape-optimized monobloc calipers featuring a patented pad retraction [system] that was awarded the 2011 Most Innovative new Motorsport Product of the Year Award," at the recent Race Tech World Motorsport Symposium.
Bowlby feels fortunate to work with partners like PFC, he said. "Like EMCO Gears, PFC are based in the US and that has been very handy for us as we finalized the package and they began manufacture of the components. We didn't partner with PFC just because they are in the same country," he explained. "We have joined forces because their products presented a unique solution for the car's braking."
Unlike most in the Le Mans paddock and due to the unusual shaping of the DeltaWing, it simply isn't possible to use off-the-shelf parts.
"The front of the DeltaWing is extremely compact so we had to be very creative with the packaging of the design," Bowlby continued, "to ensure adequate performance over 24 hours, while keeping the component weights to a minimum. The car is unique in that 60 percent of the braking occurs at the rear wheels, but that doesn't mean we could ignore the front."
With a front track just under 24 inches and rear track just shy of 67 inches, the DeltaWing is expected to weigh somewhere near 1050 pounds and sport a coefficient of drag of 0.31. Just over a quarter of the weight is on the front wheels with the balance weighted to the rear.
The brakes will be carbon discs and pads and calipers are made of an aluminum alloy, weighing in at a paltry 2.5 pounds.
The DeltaWing is in a class of its own, hoping to complete the 24-hour trek but not eligible to collect points or trophies in the seminal summer endurance race.
© 2011 Anne Proffit