World Endurance Championship

What next for the DeltaWing?

This topic contains 40 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  BenH 4 years, 7 months ago.

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    That’s exactly how I feel.



    Being better as such was never the point. The point was showing that it can be just as fast as an LMP2 car while using only half the resources; an engine with half the horsepower, tyres lasting twice as long, and using only half the fuel. And it proved that brilliantly at Le Mans, where it was considerably faster than the targets set by the ACO, with a fuel consumption of over 11mpg. Which is absolutely astonishing when traditional cars are having to use twice that.

    Plus, the concept itself was severely restricted so as not to allow it to upset the P1 cars. It was running a tiny fuel tank so its incredible fuel economy didn’t give it a big advantage, it was restricted in terms of its minimum weight (they were using virtually no titanium in the construction, and steel wishbones, rather than carbon fibre), and the power was restricted to 300bhp when the engine could easily have coped with more.

    It did have some transmission issues, but other than that the concept was an absolutely roaring success. I would love to see what it was capable of doing if it wasn’t so restricted.


    Keith Collantine

    Nissan will race the DeltaWing at Petit Le Mans, held at Road Atlanta next month.

    The team behind the car are also considering an entry in the ALMS next year, though of course what form that series will take is up in the air.

    Here’s the press release:

    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’ favourite 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 Kruger, 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 tyres of contemporary sports prototypes, Nissan DeltaWing was forced to retire from the French endurance classic after six hours, following contact with another car.

    Japanese NISMO racing driver, Satoshi Motoyama, tried heroically to repair the impact damage by the side of the Le Mans circuit for 90 minutes before having to admit defeat, garnering 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.

    “I’m very proud that Lucas will get his chance in the car − the GT Academy is a major innovation in motorsport that is making the elitist sport of motor racing genuinely accessible to everyone, including those who do not have access to big budgets and sponsorship. Lucas is living proof that the innovation works.

    “We’re thrilled to welcome Gunnar to the Nissan DeltaWing team. He is a former American Le Mans Series champion and knows Road Atlanta like the back of his hand so he is the perfect addition to the squad.”

    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 utilises 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 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; tyre supplier, Michelin, Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers organisation and Duncan Dayton’s Highcroft Racing team.

    Panoz, who was behind the ‘Project 56′ organisation under whose banner the DeltaWing started its journey to Le Mans, said: “Petit Le Mans has built up a reputation as one of the largest sportscar races in the world. Every section of the Nissan organisation has supported this car and I think the fans will love getting to see what Racer magazine called a ‘gamechanger’.

    “The DeltaWing can race in the 2013 American Le Mans Series and it is part of the merger agreement for ALMS and GRAND-AM. Safety and performance standards have to be achieved, but it needs to be reviewed. For 2014, the new series would incorporate Daytona prototypes, Le Mans prototypes, and maybe even a DeltaWing.”

    Meanwhile, Nissan DeltaWing’s visionary 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.”

    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-litre DIG-T Nissan engine, ready for the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours.

    The project 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 trialed during the race and further development work being carried out by partner, Michelin, on its bespoke tyres, specially built for the Nissan DeltaWing.

    Based on fuel consumption and tyre 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 tyres 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 tyres 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.

    Leading innovation in motorsport is nothing new for Nissan − its GT Academy has proven to be a genuine stepping stone from games console sofa to a real motor racing career. Ordonez was the inaugural winner in 2008; three years later, he made his Le Mans 24 Hours debut, scoring a podium in an LMP2 class dominated by Nissan engine power. The Spaniard was among a handful of drivers who tested the Nissan DeltaWing during its rapid development process earlier this year.



    Best of luck to them – it would be great if they could get a few different teams running them for future series. Even better if they were competing directly with an existing class (LMP2, I guess) – although I suspect the Deltawings could blow them away if tyres, engines and things like the differential were developed more aggressively.

    It’s unusual to hear about racecar fuel consumption in mpg (probably because it’s usually bad news!) – but when you consider it’s at racing speeds around Le Mans, 10.7mpg’s pretty impressive. Even better if those are US gallons.



    I don’t know why this little car has captured my heart in the way it has done. Maybe it’s because of the dramatic way in which its Le Mans attempt ended. There was something about the heroic attempts by one person for an hour and a half to get the car restarted by the side of the track which sort of summed up the whole spirit behind the car and the team itself.

    For whatever reason though, reading this literally put a lump in my throat. I can’t really say just how chuffed I am for them to be racing at Petit LM and potentially on into next year’s ALMS. A car this innovative and interesting deserves better than to be an interesting footnote in the history of motorsport.



    One thing not mentioned above is that the DeltaWing(s) running in the ALMS next year won’t be the prototype which ran at Le Mans or at the Petit LM. The prototype uses one of the two chassis’ built by Prodrive for their abortive AMR-One programme, whereas these new production DeltaWings will have their own custom chassis designed from the ground up.

    The original DeltaWing prototype was developed as a potential IndyCar replacement, and as such it was built with a single-seat style tub. When they modified the concept for LM, they chose to buy a chassis which had already been homologated as it would mean they wouldn’t have to go through the crash test procedure which would have been impossible to get through in time for Le Mans 2012. Now with a bit of time available ahead of ALMS 2013, they’re able to fully develop the concept so you can expect an even better car to be rolled out for next year.

    The idea of seeing multiple DeltaWings racing side by side gives me goosebumps.



    More good news for Ben Bowlby and co, as they’ve been given this year’s Autosport Award for Pioneering and Innovation. Very well deserved.



    I know I’m probably the only one still paying attention at this point, but it looks like there’s been a bit of news on the DeltaWing front.

    Two real stories here – the first being that Nissan have ended their relationship with the project, with the car going forward using Mazda-derived 2.0l engines. The second that the project is being taken under the (delta)wing of Don Panoz, with the ‘second generation’ production version of the car using its own bespoke tub, and the car souped up to run at LMP1 levels, compared to the LMP2 equivalence it was running at Sebring last year. If I’m reading this right, it means that it will be lining up alongside the Audis at Sebring this year and fighting for P1 honours (the DW is elligible for classification in ALMS, although realistically it’s not going to trouble the Audis, if it is indeed racing against them). It’s a bit confusing since P1 class is effectively being phased out in favour of DP class cars in the ALMS, so it’s hard to understand at this point what level the car will be running to, since a P1 level car will obliterate a DP car.

    Anyway, here’s the skinny –



    They’ve painted it like a McLaren…

    As someone’s pointed out on Twitter, that could make it even harder for other competitors to see – the black one’s had more than enough scrapes already!




    With that red 0, it looks even more like a McLaren, with a vodafone logo on it!

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