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 fans’ favorite will return to finish what it started at the event’s little brother, Petit Le Mans. The pioneering, dart-shaped Nissan DeltaWing, which captured the hearts of 240,000 Le Mans 24 Hour fans three months ago, will race again at next month’s American Le Mans Series (ALMS) finale at Road Atlanta, USA, on October 17-20.
Led by Nissan Americas Vice-Chairman, Bill Krueger, the announcement took place today at Nissan’s North American headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. 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 heroically 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 prestigious 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.
“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.”
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.
The announcement comes as it is revealed that, 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 project also provided a test bed for Nissan to develop future innovations that can be filtered into the Company’s global motorsport programmes as well as future road products. This will continue to be the case at Petit Le Mans, with new technology being trialled during the race and further development work being carried out by partner, Michelin, on its bespoke tires, specially built for the Nissan DeltaWing.
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 litres of fuel and changed tires every 300 miles, chewing through nine sets. And, while the LMP2 car had a fuel consumption level of 5mpg, Nissan DeltaWing was running at 10.7mpg.
By Paul Ryan – PR Director – Highcroft Racing