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According to Pete DeLorenzo, one of the big Detroit automakers passed on supporting the DeltaWing racer’s LeMans effort because of engineers skeptical of something not invented by their team, and another declined because of internal politics. Now, Nissan has stepped into the breach, and will be supplying the Ben Bowlby designed, Highcroft Racing managed and Dan Gurney’s AAR built radical race car with a 1.6 liter four pot equipped with a turbocharger and direct injection, based on the same highly praised engine in the Nissan Juke. Though the Nissan engine is down in power about 40% compared to the anticipated race leaders, the DeltaWing’s light weight and extremely aerodynamic shape will hopefully yield competitive lap times. I think Detroit missed out on a great opportunity. Providing it doesn’t DNF early in the race, I think that the DeltaWing may get more attention and publicity than the Audis and Peugeots that will likely be at the front of the field. The DeltaWing LeMans car will take its first public demo laps on March 15th as part of the festivities for the race at Sebring.
Press release, in-car video, and interviews with Ben Bowlby, Dan Gurney, Duncan Dayton of Highcroft Racing, and Don Panoz (who is the project’s managing partner) after the jump.
Nissan Backs Ground-Breaking Deltawing Project for Le Mans
Nissan DeltaWing experimental racecar to be powered by Nissan 1.6-litre DIG-T engine technology in this generation’s most revolutionary and exciting motorsport project
– Nissan leads efficiency charge as founding partner of project
– Innovative new racing car to run at Le Mans with Nissan technology
– Nissan DeltaWing will act as test bed for new road car technologies
– Drive for efficiency will see car use half the fuel of its conventional counterparts, bringing Nissan “PureDrive” principles to the track
– Initial backers include racing legends Dan Gurney and Don Panoz, concept designer Ben Bowlby and Michelin
– Special invitation from ACO to occupy ‘Garage 56’
– Car to wear number ‘0’ and run outside race classification
(LONDON, March 13, 2012/PRNewswire-FirstCall) — Nissan is aiming to change the face of endurance racing forever by becoming a founding partner in the most radical motorsport project of its time – Nissan DeltaWing.
A highly-advanced and hugely-efficient Nissan engine will power the remarkable DeltaWing car as it races in anger for the first time at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours (16-17 June).
While Nissan DeltaWing will not be classified in the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours, the Company is looking to showcase the pioneering technology that will show one potential direction for the future of motorsport and will feed into the research and development of future technologies, that filter down to Nissan’s road car product range.
A race-prepared 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, featuring direct petrol injection and a turbocharger, will power Nissan DeltaWing, which is half the weight and has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer.
With innovation at its core, Nissan was a natural partner to be invited into the DeltaWing family by the existing group of core partners – US-domiciled British designer Ben Bowlby, American motorsport entrepreneur Don Panoz, the All-American Racers organization of former US Formula 1 driver Dan Gurney, Duncan Dayton’s two-time championship-winning Highcroft Racing team and Michelin Tyres North America.
The engine, badged DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline – Turbocharged), is expected to produce around 300hp, sufficient to give Nissan DeltaWing lap times between LMP1 and LMP2 machines at Le Mans, despite having only half the power of those conventional prototypes. It features the same technology found in Nissan road cars, such as the range-topping Nissan Juke DIG-T.
“As motor racing rulebooks have become tighter over time, racing cars look more and more similar and the technology used has had less and less relevance to road car development. Nissan DeltaWing aims to change that and we were an obvious choice to become part of the project,” said Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
“But this is just the start of our involvement. 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”.
“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.
Nissan DeltaWing concept originator and designer, Briton Ben Bowlby, said: “Nissan has provided us with our first choice engine. It’s a spectacular piece. We’ve got the engine of our dreams: it’s the right weight, has the right power and it’s phenomenally efficient.”
Nissan DeltaWing is unlike any other racing car currently on track. 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 tyre partner Michelin. With a rear-mounted engine, the car has a strong rearward weight bias, which makes it highly manoeuvrable, while its light weight and slippery shape make it far more efficient.
Its innovative design and forward-looking technology have encouraged the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), the organisers of the famous 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. As it doesn’t conform to any existing championship regulations, Nissan DeltaWing will not be eligible to challenge for silverware and will carry the race number ‘0’.
Nissan’s expertise has been applied to the development of the engine, in order to make it light and efficient enough to prove the philosophy behind the concept can work in ‘real-world’ motor racing. The Company, always among the first to embrace such radical ideas and surprising new performance innovations, has promised to apply key learnings from the experience to inform strategies for its PureDrive aerodynamics and efficiency package for road cars, as well as its overall research & development programmes.
Dan Gurney’s legendary All American Racers organization has built the DeltaWing. The new car continues the California organisation’s incredible legacy as a race car constructor which has included 157 different cars built – earning major victories in Formula 1, sportscars and the Indianapolis 500.
Paul Willcox, Senior Vice President, Nissan in Europe, said: “Nissan is a very innovative, forward-thinking company prepared to take a risk or two. And exactly the same applies to Nissan DeltaWing. Our involvement in the project shows the boldness of Nissan from an engineering and innovation mindset.”
The first two Nissan DeltaWing drivers to be confirmed are British Sportscar racer Marino Franchitti and Nissan’s reigning FIA GT1 World Champion Michael Krumm. The car will make its first public demo laps at Sebring, Florida, at 12.30pm local time on Thursday, March 15.