Although it won’t be classified in the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hour race, the builders and sponsors of this revolutionary DeltaWing racecar are hoping its will showcase pioneering technology that will indicate a potential future for motorsport. It’s also imagined that the research and development of future technologies will filter down to Nissan production cars.
Nissan is a founding partner in perhaps the most radical motorsport project of its time, that’s aiming to change the face of endurance racing forever.
An advanced and efficient Nissan engine will power the remarkable DeltaWing as it races in anger for the first time at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours (June 16-17).
The car will be powered by a race-prepared 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, featuring direct gasoline injection and a turbocharger. The small engine is possible because the Nissan DeltaWing is half the weight and has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racecar.
Nissan was invited into the DeltaWing family by the existing group of partners – British designer Ben Bowlby, Don Panoz, the Dan Gurney All-American Racers organization, Highcroft Racing and Michelin Tires North America.
Carrying a DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline – Turbocharged) badge, the engine is expected to produce around 300hp. This is thought to be sufficient to compete with the existing LMP1 and LMP2 machines at Le Mans, despite having only half the power of those prototypes.
“As motor racing rulebooks have become tighter, racing cars look more similar and the technology has had less relevance to road car development,” said Andy Palmer from Nissan Motor Co Ltd. “Nissan DeltaWing aims to change that and we were an obvious choice to become part of the project. The vehicle embodies a number of innovative ideas we can learn from. At the same time, our engineering resources and commitment to fuel efficiency will help develop DeltaWing into a testbed for Nissan.
“This announcement gives Nissan the opportunity to become part of a ground-breaking motorsport project, and one which could shape the future of the sport,” he added.
The DeltaWing concept originator and designer, Ben Bowlby, said: “Nissan has provided us with a spectacular engine. We’ve got the engine of our dreams: it’s the right weight, right power and is phenomenally efficient.”
The Nissan DeltaWing is unlike any other racecar in that the driver sits almost over the rear axle and looks down a long, narrow fuselage that covers narrow front tires specially created by Michelin.
With a rear-mounted engine, the car has a strong rearward weight bias, which makes it highly maneuverable, while its low weight and slippery shape make it far more efficient.
Its innovative design and technology have encouraged the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) – organizers of the Le Mans 24 Hours – to invite the car to run in this year’s race from ‘Garage 56’, the spot in the pitlane reserved for experimental cars.
Because it doesn’t conform to any existing championship regulations, Nissan DeltaWing will not be eligible for points or trophies and will carry the number ‘0’.
Dan Gurney's All American Racers has built the DeltaWing. The new car continues the California organization's legacy as a racecar constructor that has included 157 different cars – earning victories in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500.
The first two Nissan DeltaWing drivers to be confirmed are Marino Franchitti and Nissan’s reigning FIA GT1 world champion Michael Krumm. The car will make its first demo laps at Sebring, FL, on Thursday, March 15.