Nissan has become a founding partner in the radical DeltaWing project that will tackle this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. The Nissan DeltaWing is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and is half the weight and has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer.
This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours takes place on 16-17 June. The DeltaWing will not be allowed to feature in the overall classification, but the company will use the appearance to ‘showcase one potential direction for the future of motorsport and feed into the research and development of future technologies, that filter down to Nissan’s road car product range’.
The DeltaWing is the work of US-domiciled British designer Ben Bowlby, American motorsport entrepreneur Don Panoz, the All-American Racers organisation of Dan Gurney, Highcroft Racing team and Michelin.
The engine, badged DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline – Turbocharged), features the same technology found in Nissan road cars, such as the range-topping Nissan Juke DIG-T. It is expected to produce almost 300bhp, which should mean the Nissan DeltaWing is capable of lap times on a par with some of the LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes.
Dan Gurney's All American Racers built the DeltaWing as a proposed new design of IndyCar chassis, but the organisers of the US single-seater series opted to remain with current supplier Dallara. Andy Palmer, Nissan’s executive vice president, said: “Nissan DeltaWing embodies a vast number of highly-innovative ideas that we can learn from. At the same time, our engineering resources and commitment to fuel efficiency leadership via our PureDrive strategy will help develop DeltaWing into a testbed of innovation for Nissan.”
In the DeltaWing, The driver sits well back in the car, almost over the rear axle and looks ahead down a long, narrow fuselage to narrow twin front tyres, specially created for the car by Michelin. With a rear-mounted engine, the car has a strong rearward weight bias, which makes it highly manoeuvrable, and a slippery shape to make it more efficient.
The car will run out of ‘Garage 56’ at Le Mans, the spot in the pitlane reserved for experimental cars, and it will carry the race number ‘0’. The first two Nissan DeltaWing drivers to be confirmed are Marino Franchitti and Michael Krumm. The car will turn its first public laps at Sebring in Florida on Thursday.