Top Gear meets the DeltaWing
Sam Philip goes on track with the car that could rewrite racing... or end up on its roof
Posted: 23 May 2012
"We can only do what we did because we've narrowed the front track," explains Bowlby. Normal RWD racers rely on the grip from one of their front wheels in cornering: the DeltaWing can use both. Initial tests recorded it pulling three lateral g in the corners.
So don't those anaemic front tyres make the DeltaWing a bit understeery? Not at all. Bowlby describes his car as an ‘oversteer-limit vehicle': one with a nice big window for lairy powerslides.
But weight distribution and tyres can't explain how the Delta, without conventional wings, actually stays on the track. "The whole car is a wing," Bowlby explains. "The downforce is created under the car. It's got an incredibly efficient twin-vortex-creating underbody. It doesn't have conventional wings because it doesn't need them."
Hang on. Don't ground effects require a near-perfect connection with the track? Bump in road or spot of unexpected turbulence equals impromptu jet-fighter take-off, no? "It'd be very bad if the DeltaWing had any propensity to become an aeroplane," Bowlby says with deadpan understatement. "But the cars you've seen flip at Le Mans were very flat-bottomed. Because the DeltaWing has a very small plan area up front, the likelihood of the car blowing over is minimal."