The 2020 24 Hours of Nürburgring race saw a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR compete with a body kit made almost entirely of natural-fiber composite materials.
Porsche has been manufacturing the doors and the rear wing of the vehicle from a natural-fiber mix since 2019, but has expanded the materials use. Now, the front and rear aprons, the front spoiler, front and rear decks as well as the mudguards and diffuser, including the aerodynamic fins, were constructed from the material, supplied by manufacturer Bcomp.
Replacing the metal and plastic injection molded components of the production sports car, the recyclable material parts share properties similar to carbon-fiber composites (CFRP) in terms of weight and stiffness. For example, for the doors, light balsa wood serves as the core of the composite material. The sandwich construction correlates to the well-known resin transfer molding (RTM) process used in the production of carbon-fiber components.
For the rear wing, a different production method is used whereby layers are impregnated with epoxy resin then baked in an autoclave. The newly added fiber parts are created using a vacuum infusion process and contain Bcomp’s proprietary powerRibs to fulfil the wing’s stiffness requirements.
Farmed flax fibers serve as the basis of the materials, and development began in 2016 with collaboration between Porsche, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the Fraunhofer WKI and the Swiss company Bcomp.
At the 24-hour race, the team Four Motors joined forces with Project 1 Motorsport to take the sustainable Cayman through its first test at race speed. If analysis of the test shows it was a success, it is likely that Manthey-Racing will offer the parts kit to customers.