Michelin today unveiled the first set of specially designed race tires for the 24 Hours of Le Mans-bound Project 56 DeltaWing team. One look at the unique sizes of the tires makes the radical nature of the DeltaWing prototype design obvious.
The Delta Wing front tires are just 10/58-15, or less than 23 inches tall, and with a tread just 4in. wide. By contrast, the 2011 Le Mans-winning Audi R18 TDI turbocharged-diesel prototype utilized taller and wider front 36/71-18 Michelin tires, approximately 28in. tall with nearly 14in. of tread width.
“The difference in tire size is stunning,” said Michelin American Le Mans Series technical team leader Karl Koenigstein. “You could fit three DeltaWing Michelin front tires inside an Audi Le Mans Prototype Michelin front tire.”
The rear tires are less dramatic in size, because the DeltaWing is designed to race with 31/62-15 Michelin tires while the average LMP2 prototype rear tire is sized at 37/71-18. “The DeltaWing rear tire is shorter and uses a smaller rim,” said Koenigstein.
The DeltaWing has been granted the special invitation for the 56th entry at the 2012 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Its design is based on the concept of “half,” meaning half the power, weight, fuel and tires of current Le Mans Prototype competitors with comparable performance.
The first stop for the latest Michelin tires will be the full-size wind tunnel, where the DeltaWing team validates its data on the first completed race car before embarking on initial track testing. The team has not yet announced its engine partner.