Michelin 1st Partner for Project 56 DeltaWing Prototype to Run 24 Hour LeMans

Michelin announced today that it will be the first major technical partner to support the Project 56 DeltaWing prototype car running in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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The DeltaWing strategy is to reduce by half the weight, power, aerodynamic drag, and fuel and tire usage of a Le Mans prototype race car — while delivering the same speed and performance. Michelin has developed a tire solution that pushes the performance envelope and matches the strategy. The Michelin tire sizes for the DeltaWing project are: 10/58-15 (front) and 31/62-15 (rear).

The four-wheeled DeltaWing features a three-point layout with narrow front track, wide rear track and significantly reduced aerodynamic drag. With this unique chassis layout, the tire solution presented distinct challenges. Designed by former Lola Cars chief designer Ben Bowlby, the DeltaWing car is currently being constructed by racing legend Dan Gurney at the All American Racers facilities in Santa Ana, Calif. On-track testing is expected to begin late this year.

“The DeltaWing presents exciting new territory for Michelin to explore,” said Nick Shorrock, director of competition, Michelin. “Reducing energy consumption and materials — while maintaining, or even enhancing performance — is especially relevant in meeting the needs of consumers worldwide. Project 56 takes fresh ideas and puts them into a dramatic new package and we look forward to these challenges and opportunities,” said Shorrock.

During the development process, Michelin engineers worked side-by-side with the DeltaWing team in order to understand the speed, load and stresses that the tires might experience.

Michelin and its technical partner teams have won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the past 14 consecutive years and has significantly extended the wear rate of its tires and reduced the number of tires used by its technical partner teams at Le Mans by more than 20 percent in the past three years.

“Michelin has logged hundreds of thousands of miles at Le Mans working with a wide array of different cars in varied conditions. The 2011 Le Mans winning Audi R18 diesel prototype was able to run five full stints - or 55 laps (454 miles) - on just one set of Michelin tires during the 2011 race,” said Dayton. “No one can match that kind of tire performance.”

The “56th entry” at Le Mans is a special invitation extended by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the organizers of the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans race, to encourage innovation and the introduction of new technologies. The 56th entry may race outside the standard technical classifications.

The 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be June 16-17, 2012, at the 8.47 mile Circuit de la Sarthe, approximately 90 miles southwest of Paris.


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