2012 Nissan DeltaWing projectEnlarge Photo
Calling the Nissan DeltaWing racer a fan favorite is a bit of an understatement, so Nissan has announced the car’s return to competition at the American Le Mans Series’ season finale, the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on October 17-20.
We last saw the DeltaWing driven on track at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where contact between the DeltaWing and a Toyota TS030 Hybrid left the innovative racer stranded by the side of the track.
Le Mans rules specify that only a driver can repair his car, and DeltaWing pilot Satoshi Motoyama struggled heroically for some two hours to get the car back on track. It was not to be, and many thought the DeltaWing’s racing career ended with a tow to the Le Mans garage area.
Despite the car’s early retirement, those associated with the project managed to amass enough data to call the project a success. The car ran the targeted lap times, achieved the desired fuel consumption and showed the expected tire wear.
Compared to a conventional LeMans Prototype (LMP2) racer, the DeltaWing used half as much fuel, returning 10.7 mpg compared to 5 mpg. Tire data shows the DeltaWing would have been able to go 600 miles on a set of tires, compared to just 300 miles from a conventional LMP2 racer.
Petit Le Mans will pose an entirely different challenge for the DeltaWing team and drivers Lucas Ordonez and Gunnar Jeannette. Unlike the Circuit de la Sarthe (home of the 24 Hours of Le Mans), Road Atlanta is tighter and more technical, and it will surely pose a challenge for the Michelin tire engineers on the team.
If you’re a fan of the DeltaWing, there’s a good chance you’ll see it run in 2013 and beyond, too. The ALMS rules for 2013 allow the forward-thinking racer to compete, and provisions will be made for it in 2014 and beyond, when the ALMS merges with the Grand Am series.
Despite the setbacks experienced by the team at Le Mans in June, it looks like the DeltaWing racer may have a future in motorsports after all.