Nissan DeltaWing back, racing in Petit Le Mans
17 September 2012
The Nissan DeltaWing (earlier post) is returning after having been sidelined following a collision during the Le Mans 24 Hour fans three months ago, and will race again at next month’s American Le Mans Series (ALMS) finale at Road Atlanta on 17-20 October.
Designed and built with the aim of completing the famous Le Mans 24 Hours using half the fuel and half the tires of contemporary sports prototypes, Nissan DeltaWing was forced to retire from the French endurance classic after six hours, following the contact with another car.
Existing race commitments mean that all three of the Nissan DeltaWing Le Mans drivers—Satoshi Motoyama, Marino Franchitti and Michael Krumm—are unavailable for the Petit Le Mans ALMS race. Nissan’s original GT Academy champion Lucas Ordonez will race the car at Road Atlanta, along with American Le Mans Series 2011 PC class champion Gunnar Jeannette.
Based on fuel consumption and tire wear data taken during more than six hours of running at Le Mans, the car was on course to achieve its goal of completing the 24 Hours using half the fuel and half the tires of its fellow entrants.
Data taken from a standard LMP2 car at Le Mans indicated that it used 2,350 liters of fuel and changed tires every 300 miles, chewing through nine sets. And, while the LMP2 car had a fuel consumption level of 5 mpg, Nissan DeltaWing was running at 10.7 mpg.
Le Mans was a huge success for us—the car did everything we wanted it to do and more, proving that the pioneering technology we were testing in the world's most public laboratory works and is a viable option for the future sustainability of motorsport.
The only thing that didn’t go our way was the way the race ended for us, which was entirely out of our control. Because we’d proven the technology worked, it was hard to be too disappointed, but we were blown away by the level of support and goodwill that came our way from the fans so now we feel we owe it to them to race again.—Darren Cox, General Manager, Nissan in Europe
The team believes that the 1,000-mile, 10-hour Petit Le Mans race is the perfect event for Nissan DeltaWing to not only give fans the race finish they desire, but also demonstrate its prowess on a more traditional track, as opposed to the high-speed Le Mans circuit, which also utilizes public roads.
As part of the ALMS merger with the other major sportscar series, GRAND-AM Road Racing, provision will be made for Nissan DeltaWing within the regulations of the resulting new championship, scheduled to start in 2014.
The Nissan DeltaWing team comprises a group of key partners including American motorsport entrepreneur Don Panoz; project patron and Indy 500 team owner, Chip Ganassi; designer Ben Bowlby; tire supplier, Michelin; Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers organization; and Duncan Dayton’s Highcroft Racing team.
Nissan became a founding partner in the DeltaWing project in March this year and the team then faced a major challenge to get the experimental Nissan DeltaWing car and its specially-developed 1.6-liter DIG-T Nissan engine, ready for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
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