Welter Racing’s biomethane-powered Garage 56 entry for next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans is facing a budget crisis that could prevent the French prototype from participating in the legendary event.
“Our engine has not run yet,” WR team engineer Thibaut Dejardin told DailySportsCar.com. “It’s not a technical issue that’s holding us back but funding. We need to find a total budget of four to five million euros [$4.4m-$5.5m] for this project, and we haven’t yet reached that objective yet. The chassis, the gearbox, the front and rear axles are ready.”
The three-cylinder, 1.2-liter engine – an original WR design – is intended to be fed by large stores of the natural gas contained within tanks chilled to -260.5 F to concentrate and maximize fuel volume. Although WR, which has competed at its home event almost 30 times, appears to have the rest of the car completed, the one component that makes it unique and worthy of the Garage 56 entry awaits a large infusion of cash.
“We exhibited the car at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris last month. People are interested, but funding is still lacking,” Dejardin added. “If we can’t do it next year – which seems more and more likely – we will keep on pushing and try to make it onto the track for 2018 or 2019.”
Despite multiple Garage 56 invitations being awarded by the ACO, organizers of the 24-hour race, the last bespoke vehicle to accept the offer and actually compete was Nissan’s ZEOD (below) in 2014.