Michelin Departs DeltaWing Project Following Goal Completion

by Vince Pettit

Michelin have announced that after successfully completing its goals it will no longer be part of the innovative DeltaWing project. The French tyre company were one of the first corporate backers of the project and helped take the car to Le Mans in 2012 with Nissan and a whole host of partners.

Craig Hodges, external communications director for Michelin North America Inc. explained that the project involvement had come to a natural end. “We are proud to have been involved in the DeltaWing project, which provided the opportunity to develop an innovative 4-inch, lightweight tire that delivered high performance and durability,”

“Our goals for a successful partnership were achieved, as evidenced by the car’s performance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and again at Petit Le Mans in 2012,” he said. “The new technologies and processes used for the DeltaWing tire will play a crucial role in helping Michelin to develop the next generation of innovative competition tires.”

The DeltaWing project continues under the guidance of Don Panoz but has recently been put in doubt after the departure of major partners including Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers who built and tested the DeltaWing, Highcroft Racing who helped develop the car, Ben Bowlby who designed the car and now Michelin.

Panoz’s engineering company Elan Motorsports Technologies is developing a new engine to replace the 1.6 litre Nissan powerplant based on a Mazda four-cylinder block. Despite the use of the Mazda engine, Mazda North America has confirmed that it has no involvement in the project despite being approached a number of times by Panoz; John Doonan, head of Mazda’s U.S. racing operations stated that the timing was never right.

Recent rumours have linked Bridgestone as a potential tyre replacement but Al Speyer, director of motorsports for Bridgestone Americas denied these reports and said the talk was premature.

The DeltaWing is due to take to the track once again next month for the 12 Hours of Sebring but we will have to wait to see if the project continues to develop in to the closed top car Panoz envisions.

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