Porsche has an interesting new body kit for its 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR that will race this year’s Nürburgring 24-hour race. What’s interesting about the body kit is the material it’s made from. Porsche constructed the complete body kit from a natural-fiber composite material for the first time.
The material is a natural-fiber mix that is sourced primarily from renewable raw materials. The new racing car marks the first time the front and rear aprons, front spoiler, front and rear lids, and the mudguards and diffuser, including aerodynamic fins, have been made from the material. Previously Porsche made doors and the rear wing of a small series racing vehicle out of the material.
The material replaces metal and plastic injection molding components of the production sports car. The automaker notes that in terms of weight and stiffness, the recyclable natural-fiber composite material of non-structural components share properties similar to carbon-fiber composites and meet the same safety and quality standards. The significant benefit is that the natural-fiber composites can be manufactured more economically and require less energy.
Farmed flax fiber serves as the basis for the sustainable natural-fiber composite material and doesn’t impact food crops. Porsche began developing the material in 2016 with the collaboration between it and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. On the doors of the racing car, balsa wood serves as the core of the composite material, and the sandwich construction correlates to the well-known resin transfer molding process used in the production of carbon fiber components.
On the rear wing, layers are impregnated with epoxy resin and baked in an autoclave. The newly added components made of the fiber-reinforced plastic are created using a vacuum infusing process using Bcomp’s proprietary powerRibs technology to meet stiffness requirements. Other benefits include that the material dampens vibrations five times better than other materials and splinters into larger pieces that are less sharp in an accident.