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Project 56 group

DeltaWing tackles Le Mans with fuel efficiency

The Project 56 group brings the DeltaWing concept to Le Mans in 2012, with a small displacement engine.

DeltaWing concept
The DeltaWing concept will compete at the 2012 Le Mans endurance race with only 300 horsepower. Project 56 group

Engines over 5 liters are common at the 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race, so how can a team fielding a car with only 1.6 liters attempt to compete? That answer comes in the form of weight reduction and aerodynamics.

The Project 56 group earned a spot in the 2012 24 hours of Le Mans race for its DeltaWing concept, a car eschewing horsepower in favor of an advanced body structure favoring air flow and light weight. Le Mans officials gave the car the 56th spot in the starting grid, a place that has been reserved for experimental cars to compete in the endurance race using a variety of alternative technologies.

The DeltaWing concept will use a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine making 300 horsepower, approximately half that of the typical Le Mans competitor. The car uses a slim front end with a much narrower track than the rear, making it easier for the engine to push the car forward.

As required by 24 hours of Le Mans rules, the car has room for a second occupant next to the driver. Headlights are embedded in the nose and in the rear wheel struts, necessary for the nighttime laps of the race.

A 24-hour race, Le Mans rewards cars with better fuel efficiency requiring fewer refueling stops. Audi recently exploited this fact of the race using diesel engines in its cars.

The 56th spot in the starting grid allows teams to try out efficiency technologies that can eventually find their way into production cars.