The fan-favorite Nissan DeltaWing racer will make its North American competition debut at the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, scheduled for Saturday, October 20.

While many thought this would be a one-time running of the car, which last turned a wheel in anger at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, the ALMS is confirming the car will return for the 2013 season as an approved series platform.

The sanctioning body for the ALMS, the International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) has announced that the DeltaWing will be a fully classified car for the 2013 season, although rule details are still pending. While it will run as a prototype at the upcoming Petiti Le Mans, the goal is to gather data necessary for 2013 classification at the event.

Though the DeltaWing lacks the horsepower of conventional Le Mans Prototype cars, it’s also half the weight and much more fuel efficient, meaning it will require fewer pit stops through the duration of a race. Data from the car’s performance at Petit Le Mans will be used to determine what kind of performance balancing rules will be applied to the car for next year.

Interest in the unconventional (but potentially cost-saving) platform is reportedly high among teams and fans alike, but it remains to be seen if the car will be competitive enough to contend for the championship in its first full season of racing.

Don Panoz, ALMS founder (and DeltaWing Cars managing partner) explains that tests at Road Atlanta have already generated data to improve the car. In his words, “Those lessons will be used for the updated 2013 car with a number of changes that will improve reliability and further enhance safety.”

The DeltaWing has even been thrown into the mix as the next chassis for the Indy Lights series, but we think it makes far more sense in sports car prototype racing than in an open-wheel feeder series.

If you can’t make it to Road Atlanta for this weekend’s Petit Le Mans but still want to see the DeltaWing run, you’ve got several viewing options. Live coverage will air on ESPN3, beginning at 11:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 20. ABC will cover the end of the race (with a recap of highlights) beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 21.