Highcroft Racing boss Duncan Dayton highlighted the unique opportunity the DeltaWing 24 Hours of Le Mans entry has to act as a catalyst to inspire change in the automotive industry in an address at Washington, D.C. on Tuesday (scroll down for video).
Dayton joined key industry leaders and government officials at the National Press Club for a "Green Racing" press conference showcasing the American Le Mans Series position as a green racing global leader.
The DeltaWing Project 56 project was awarded the 56th entry in June for next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. “Garage 56” is reserved for vehicles showcasing new automotive technology previously unseen on the racetrack.
Designed by Ben Bowlby, the unique car features half the weight, half the horsepower and half the aerodynamic drag of a traditional LMP1 class sports car, yet targets the same level of overall performance. “The 24 Hours of the Le Mans is the most important showcase for manufacturers around the world to demonstrate their technology, their capability and their products,” Dayton said. “It really is the ultimate test of man and machine and an ideal opportunity to showcase your technology whether it be alternative drive trains, alternative fuels or new design concepts.
“For the DeltaWing project, Le Mans is even more special because we are in a position where we can throw away the rulebook, start with a clean sheet of paper and demonstrate the creativity and ingenuity of our designers and engineers.”
The Project 56 team includes Dayton's back-to-back American Le Mans Series champion team, Highcroft Racing; Bowlby; racing legend Dan Gurney and his All American Racers organization, which will build the prototype; and American Le Mans Series founder Don Panoz who is a key adviser and will provide the unique recyclable REAMS material to be used as part of the car's bodywork construction.
“The DeltaWing project is certainly spreading the word about the efficient use of resources – we'll use less fuel, have less tire wear – even transporting the car to the track will take less resources because it is half the weight of what is normally traveling in the transporter to American Le Mans Series events or on a plane to France for Le Mans,” Dayton said.
“We believe there is quite a bit of life left in the internal combustion engine. While there has been quite a lot of work done on electric vehicles, hybrids, flywheels, hydrogen-powered cars and other new drivetrain options – the technologies are not yet at a place where they can have a dramatic impact on the fuel consumption of the country. The DeltaWing car will demonstrate incredible fuel efficiency with technology that we have today.
“We think that makes this car incredibly relevant. The fact we haven't been restricted by a rulebook has given us this incredible freedom. By the use of very clever packaging, enhanced aerodynamics and really thinking outside the box, all the partners in Project 56 believe this car really has the opportunity to be the catalyst to inspire change in what we drive on the roads tomorrow.”
The DeltaWing car is currently under construction at Gurney's All American Racers facility in Santa Ana, Calif., with the final full-sized Le Mans version of the car expected to be unveiled in the near future. Dayton said the car will begin testing in December in preparation for its race debut in 2012.