Published September 18, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
The team behind the radical Nissan DeltaWing has declared it has “unfinished business” ... after being unceremoniously shoved out of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours in June, the experimental race car will return to finish what it started at the event's little brother, Petit Le Mans.
The dart-shaped Nissan DeltaWing will race again at next month's American Le Mans Series (ALMS) finale at Road Atlanta on October 17-20.
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 contact with another car.
The plight of Japanese NISMO racing driver, Satoshi Motoyama, who tried to repair the impact damage by the side of the Le Mans circuit for 90 minutes before having to admit defeat, garnered massive support for the team from fans, whose demands for it to return to the racetrack will now be satisfied.
Existing race commitments mean that all three of the Nissan DeltaWing Le Mans drivers - Motoyama, Marino Franchitti and Michael Krumm - are unavailable for the Petit Le Mans ALMS race. Nissan's original GT Academy champion, Spaniard Lucas Ordonez is set to race the car at Road Atlanta, along with American Le Mans Series 2011 PC class champion Gunnar Jeannette.
Darren Cox, General Manager, Nissan in Europe, said: “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.”
Meanwhile, Nissan DeltaWing's creator, Ben Bowlby, said: “At Petit Le Mans, we will get the chance to show the US fans just how cool this car is but also the chance to prove that it works on a much tighter, twistier road course, rather than the flat-out, 300kmh, Le Mans-style racetrack. It's important for us to gain in lap experience, testing and driver feedback and really validate the whole concept.”
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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 grueling Le Mans 24 Hours.
According to the company, the project provided a test bed for Nissan to develop future innovations that can be filtered into the company's global motorsport programs as well as future road products. This will continue to be the case at Petit Le Mans, with new technology being trialed during the race and further development work being carried out by partner, Michelin, on its bespoke tires, specially built for the Nissan DeltaWing.