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
So the science stacks up. But, why, I ask Bowlby - if the DeltaWing is such an elegant engineering solution - does the rest of the world persist with the four-square race-car format? "It's the inertia of previous ideas," he suggests. "The reason we do things today is so often based on decisions that were made hundreds of years ago."
Bowlby relates that, after the DeltaWing was shunned by IndyCar and derided for its looks, he was invited to give a talk to the American Institute of Architects. "They thought it was interesting I'd made a car where form followed function, and that everyone rejected it," Bowlby recalls. "They said that's what happens with every landmark building. You do a design study, you come up with this new space and everyone says, ‘We hate it.' Then they discover it actually works.
"The architects predicted those people who were vehemently against it would be intrigued, then they'd check it out, then they'd become fanatics. That's what we're finding with the DeltaWing. Usually in architecture, it's 100 years after the building is put up that it's acknowledged as a landmark. Things move quicker in the web era."
The DeltaWing team will have to move mighty quick themselves to get the car prepped for Le Mans. Bowlby describes finishing the race as a "best-case scenario", but admits the chances of that are "very, very small". The team is targeting a 3m45 lap of La Sarthe: that's within 10 per cent of the quickest lap set by last year's winning Audi R18, and faster than the LMP2 prototypes with their 5.0 V8s.