Delta Wing’s CEO Dan Partel says the unique single-seater is by no means dead. In fact, Partel is confident he will be able to strike a deal in the next month to build and test a Delta Wing prototype with a plan to race the car in 2013. In recent weeks Partel has had meetings with a number of European automobile manufacturers who have expressed interest in building 1.6 litre in-line four-cylinder ‘Global Racing Engines’ which are ideally suited to the Delta Wing.
“We are moving absolutely as fast as possible and I hope to have something concrete in three or four weeks time,” Partel told me this week. “If this comes together in the way we hope we will be looking for the very best talent in every category. We want people who are the best and the brightest. We want to get a prototype up and running in the next six months and then test and develop the car so it will be ready to race in 2013. And the beautiful thing about motor racing is there’s more than one sanctioning body out there.”
Partel is convinced the ‘Global Racing Engine’ concept will take off over the next few years with four or five manufacturers already looking at supplying different versions of the ‘GRE’ to different categories from touring and rally cars to single-seaters.
“Chevrolet, Ford, Mazda and BMW are up and running with their in-line fours,” Partel says. “The FIA regulations for the GRE will require the automobile manufacturers to sell or make available to the public the basic components of their engines within six months of entering competition. We believe we will be able to buy production engines that would require a dry sump lubrication kit and a few other bits and bobs for $15,000-$20,000. This whole thing has been well thought-out by the engine manufacturers working with the FIA and obviously they are going ahead with it.”
Partel says he’s sure the VW Group will also produce a ‘GRE’. “At the moment there are a lot of internal politics going on inside the VW Group so it’s difficult to say what’s going to happen, but I have no doubt that Volkswagen-Audi will be I-4 engine suppliers in the future.”
Meanwhile, IndyCar’s suddenly-embattled new CEO Randy Bernard has been told by most of his team owners that they cannot afford to buy and race the proposed new Dallara-Honda combination in 2012. Partel ridiculed last month’s ‘Iconic’ committee decision. “Now that the Chevy, Ford, Mazda and BMW in-line four engines are available,” Partel remarked, “I’m perplexed about how the ‘Iconic’ committee came to the conclusion that nobody wanted to supply an I-4 engine.”
Partel also offered a few words of advice to Bernard. “When you’re trying to develop or maintain a racing series you have to look at the key figure, which is return on investment for your teams. If your teams are financially healthy the whole series will be healthy. The return on investment has to be at least equal to the cost of operating a competitive team. That is the first target any series must set for itself. How do you create and build the proper media platform for your teams so that sponsors have confidence?
“To my thinking this has not been done by the IRL and I’m not sure they have the opportunity to do it because of budget constraints. In my opinion, the IRL are under spending, forcing Randy Bernard to do things that probably are not in the best interests of the series in an attempt to reduce the IRL’s deficit. That’s a tough assignment.”
Is it possible the Delta Wing will come to life while IndyCar’s 2012 Dallara-Honda formula will be delayed or stillborn? At this point it’s impossible to predict what the future holds for American open-wheel racing.