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2017 Garage 56 Bio-Methane WR Aiming For September 2016 Shakedown (first pics)

A real scoop this morning from Mat Fernandez 

During the 2015 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the ACO formally announced that French team Welter Racing would be offered a Garage 56 entry for 2017. The team’s car will include a brand new chassis developped by Gerard Welter’s team and an engine running on cheap, eco-friendly fuel: liquified bio-methane.

Bio-methane is a natural gas that can be appropriately stored when it is condensed into liquid form. This is achieved after being subjected to a pressure of 10 Bar and a temperature of -127°C. One of the several technological challenges for Welter Racing is to keep these two conditions constant in their prototype. “To do so, we will safely store the fuel in a cryogenic tank located between the driver and the engine,” says team engineer Thibault Dejardin. At such temperatures and pressures, the next hurdle is to suitably pump and inject the fuel into the engine. “We are still counting on a 450 bhp turbocharged 1600cc 3 cylinder engine built in-house. It’s lightweight and compact. We haven’t started testing it yet,” he admits.

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As for the chassis, things are advancing well. A full-scale car has undertaken several series of wind-tunnel tests (above). “We are getting close to the final design,” says team founder Gerard Welter. Several body parts, including the tub, have been produced.

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“Our aim now is to shakedown the car next September. It is critical that we respect that timeline if we want to have a proper run during the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2017,” says Welter. The team is currently planning to make its first public appearance on the track during the 2017 WEC Prologue.

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“Our only obstacle right now isn’t really technical. We’ve been working closely with engine-part manufacturers, and things are well under way. We’re still pretty much funding this project ourselves. I hope that the recent discussions I’ve had with potential new sponsors will soon allow us to move onto the next stage of developing the car.”