Eagle Delta Wing for 2012 Le Mans


It is a great pleasure to report that Ben Bowlby’s revolutionary Delta Wing will race in next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. The car will be built in California by Dan Gurney’s legendary All American Racers and raced by American Le Mans Series champion Duncan Dayton’s Highcroft team. ALMS founder Dan Panoz is a consultant to the combine, which calls itself ‘The Project 56 Group’. Starting next year Le Mans organiser the ACO has created an additional 56th starting position at La Sarthe for technologically innovative cars to compete outside the conventional Le Mans classes, and the Delta Wing will be the first car to occupy this position.

“When the ACO management met the Delta Wing representative everybody thought it would be a high-quality project for a Le Mans Experimental entry in 2012,” said Vincent Beaumesnil, the ACO’s directeur sports. “The interest in this project is based on the optimisation of factors that have an impact on global energy consumption and car efficiency: weight, power, drag. The ACO want to give the opportunity to evaluate each technology and this project shows that ahead of hybrid, biofuel or electric technology we can explore other ways to improve efficiency.”

And that’s what the Delta Wing is all about – improving efficiency, not only with its radical, wingless aerodynamic concept aimed at reducing conventional drag numbers by half, but with much less weight. The complete car will weigh just 475kgs, and with only 300hp required for it to achieve 240mph straightline speeds and competitive lap times alongside the fastest Le Mans prototypes.

A deal has yet to be struck with a motor manufacturer but it’s expected that the car will be powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine producing 300hp at 8000rpm. Tyres will most likely come from Bridgestone – which built development tyres for last year’s full-scale wind tunnel model – or Michelin.


“The car has a three-point layout with a narrow front and wide rear track as opposed to the rectangular layout of contemporary racing cars,” said Delta Wing designer Ben Bowlby. “We need much less chassis torsional stiffness for handling performance, so we don’t need to use such stiff and brittle materials in the chassis. We can use light, tough and energy-absorbing materials instead.

“We applaud the ACO for having the foresight to create this opportunity for an entry like ours,” Bowlby added. “We believe this is a true automotive innovation which could be the catalyst for changing the way people look at not only racing car design, but automotive design as a whole.”


Delta Wing designer Ben Bowlby

Dan Gurney, renowned as one of America’s most creative racing car builders, is delighted to bring the Eagle name back into business after more than 10 years on the sidelines. “The Delta Wing weighs half as much as current cars,” he said. “It burns half as much fuel, uses much less tyre and goes the same speed because of the exceptional aerodynamics and low drag.

“After looking at the project and the car’s technical aspects I was asked if we would like to build it. I didn’t hesitate for a moment. When I first discussed this car with Ben Bowlby I tried to shoot holes in what he was saying, but I quickly found I wasn’t able to. I believe the targets and predictions are valid.”

Duncan Dayton is a highly respected historic racer who’s Highcroft team has won the ALMS the past two years, competed at Le Mans for the first time last year and finished second at Sebring this year.

“In my opinion the Delta Wing has the potential to be one of the most significant developments in motor racing in 50 years,” he declared. “It’s so new and exciting, and such an interesting departure from the traditional race car development path. It is highly relevant to the future.

“Given that the world is concentrating on efficiency and green technologies in an attempt to achieve sustainability, this project will help promote the direction that is being adopted throughout the entire automotive industry.”

All American Racers starts work next month on the prototype Delta Wing and Highcroft will test the car later this year. We will watch the project unfold with great interest.

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