From farm waste to fast laps: upcycling the Cayman GT4
Porsche’s mid-engine racer aims to turn farm waste into fast laps
The 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR will tackle this weekend's Nürburgring 24-hour race wearing a body kit made of organic composite materials. Since 2019 the car’s doors and rear wing have used primarily renewable raw materials, but for the first time, the front and rear aprons, the front spoiler, front and rear lids, mudguards and diffuser will also be natural-fibre based.
In terms of weight and stiffness, the recyclable composite shares properties similar to carbon-fibre and meets the same high safety and quality standards. But natural-fibre composites can be manufactured more economically and with less energy. They are also five times more effective at damping vibrations and, in the event of an accident, splinter into larger and less sharp pieces.
Farmed flax fibres serve as the basis of the material following a collaboration between Porsche, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the Fraunhofer WKI and the Swiss company Bcomp.
For the doors, lightweight balsa wood serves as the core with a sandwich construction similar to the well-known resin transfer moulding (RTM) process used in the production of carbon-fibre components. The rear wing, meanwhile, is made from layers impregnated with epoxy resin which are then baked in an autoclave. But the new components are created using a vacuum infusion process and contain Bcomp’s proprietary powerRibs™ technology to fulfil stiffness requirements. Materials of varying thicknesses and fibre orientations ensure the precise adjustment to specific purposes and loads.
At this weekend’s 24-hour race, the Four Motors team joins forces with Project 1 Motorsport to take the upcycled 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR through its first test at race speeds. The car, wearing the number 420, will be driven by Matthias Beckwermert, Henrik Bollerslev, Nicola Bravetti and Marco Timbal. Because it has not been homologated it is unable to compete for points in the SRO race series, but if this test run goes well, Manthey Racing is expected to offer the new parts as a kit to its customers.