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Carbon-Kevlar composites in Citroen DS3 rallycross body panels

News International-French

6 Jun 2013

The former World Rally Champion, Petter Solberg, is currently competing in the 2013 European Rallycross Championships with a customized 600 horse power Citroën DS3 super-car fitted out with new lightweight carbon-Kevlar crestapol composite body panels.

The new lightweight FRP composite parts were designed and manufactured by motorsport composite specialists Galway Carbon.  Each of the eleven new composite body panels for Solberg’s Citroën DS3 was vacuum infused using Scott Bader’s high performance Crestapol 1250LV urethane acrylate type acrylic resin reinforced with carbon fibre and Kevlar fabrics. To further reduce weight, a foam core was also used in the bonnet.  

Original pressed steel body panels, such as the nearside door, bonnet and the boot were replaced with the infused carbon-Kevlar composite components, reducing individual part weights by between 82% to as much as 89% in the case of the boot; the original steel boot weighed 16kg compared to only 1.8kg for the new lightweight carbon-Kevlar Crestapol resin composite boot.  The carbon–Kevlar door panel, which weighs only 2.9kg including the inner frame, replaced the original 20kg nearside steel door, making a further 17.1kg weight saving. There were also a number of originally fitted GRP parts on the Citroën DS3 rally version.  These were also replaced with new carbon-kevlar Crestapol resin parts which, according to Galway Carbon, are significantly stiffer, stronger and over 50% lighter than the original GRP body parts.  The largest carbon–Kevlar panel fabricated was the front bumper (surface area ~1.75 sq. m) which Galway Carbon managed to redesign down to a weight of only 2.17kg. Overall, the eleven new lightweight carbon-Kevlar composite body parts supplied by Galway Carbon reduced the DS3’s original 1200kg curb weight by over 56kg. Its important because it is not only Formula 1 where qualifying and winning can be decided by a matter of a few thousandths of a second, so for Petter Solberg, when racing in the European Rallycross Championships, every kilogram counts.

Galway Carbon, based in Oranmore, Co. Galway on the west coast of Ireland was started in 2009 by Brian Grealish and Sean Hession, who are co-owners of the company. Both are Motorsport enthusiasts who compete in Irish car rallying races when time and budget allows. They have built a global customer base, which includes leading rally drivers, and today Galway Carbon has established an enviable reputation as an innovative fabricator and supplier of high quality, lightweight carbon composite parts for rally, race, fast road and non-motoring applications, including one off bespoke mouldings and specialist repair work.

Crestapol 1250LV acrylic resin was selected by Galway Carbon in preference to an epoxy infusion resin due to a combination of faster processability, reliable application performance in use and lower costs. Sean Hession explained: “There are several reasons why we chose Crestapol 1250LV. The resin‘s mechanical performance is exceptional, combining the strength and durability needed to reliably cope with harsh rally car racing conditions; being a Scott Bader product we have a high level of confidence in its quality.  From the processing side, it is extremely good for vacuum infusion, with very rapid cycle times at room temperature which is way ahead of any comparative epoxies, and the surface finish is excellent. The final reason is that overall Crestapol has proved to be more cost effective than any epoxy resin we have ever used as we don’t need to do any oven curing.”

The vast majority of components are fabricated by Galway Carbon using vacuum infusion, with the emphasis being on using the best raw materials and consumable products available and the infusion techniques to ensure the quality, finish and consistency of their products.  For a number of years now, Scott Bader Ireland has been their preferred resin supplier, with all of their closed moulding consumables being supplied by East Coast Fibreglass Supplies Ltd.  

This latest European Rallycross super car custom project by Galway Carbon, who cost effectively infused lightweight carbon-kevlar composite body panels using Crestapol 1250LV, has successfully demonstrated Scott Bader’s carbon fibre Crestapol laminate resin system as a real alternative to established liquid and prepreg epoxy resin systems for a variety of high performance applications in markets, such as automotive, transportation, wind energy and marine, which all have a need for lightweight composite solutions.

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