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Nissan Deltawing development on track for Le Mans


April 18, 2012

The DeltaWing Project - half the power, half the weight, twice the aerodynamic efficiency

The DeltaWing Project - half the power, half the weight, twice the aerodynamic efficiency

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Gizmag is essentially about new thought - new and better ways of doing things. Hence the DeltaWing Project which we detailed previously, is of greater fascination than most current auto racing projects because it the 1.6-litre Nissan DIG-T turbo-powered car is very different very hugely innovative. Racetrack testing is well underway and the car recently had its first serious outing in the wet at the U.K.'s Snetterton circuit.

The Nissan DeltaWing runs a small 1.6-liter Nissan DIG-T turbo engine with roughly half the power of a normal prototype, but it is also half the weight, and has almost half the aerodynamic drag of a traditional Le Mans sportscar. Visually, it is very different with front tires that are just four inches wide.

The team's goal is the Le Mans 24 Hour Race where being fast and consistent in the rain is one of the important criteria for being competitive.

Hence when the team went testing at Snetterton and was greeted with a rainy day, it was all smiles as the car reeled off some excellent times on the slippery track and dispelled any doubts about its ability to handle a damp surface.

Normally inclement weather which would see cars sitting it out in the pits was welcomed by the team as it had only conducted one brief wet track test prior to now, when it used a water truck to dampen Sebring racetrack in the United States. Mother nature is capable of putting a lot more water on a racetrack than a watertruck though, and hence as the weather went from wet to very wet, some rapid progress was made in the development of the wet tires for the car.

Scotsman Marino Franchitti and German Michael Krumm both tried the car in wet conditions and with tire partner Michelin on hand, lots of useful information was gleaned.

"The whole Nissan DeltaWing team is still on a massive learning curve. Testing in the States was a stable, predictable way of doing the initial groundwork but this exciting car is going to be racing in the French countryside," said Darren Cox, Nissan's European GM.

"Today, the whole team got a taste of the conditions they may well face on June 16/17, so it may not have been much fun in the Norfolk rain, but it's about the best thing that could have happened for a project and a car that will face an enormous challenge just to make the end of the race."

"The day allowed us to try the wet tires in a real world situation - we didn't have to wet the track at all, it was a proper wet, rainy day," said Franchitti. "The day has really given us some important data and provided Michelin with some clear direction for future development.

"The engine and gearbox were really strong - it was a proper testing day when we were really able to get down to business doing damper work, brake work - all in all, it was a very positive test and we're now very much looking forward to the next run."

Franchitti's co-driver Michael Krumm made some interesting comments regarding the handling of the car, noting, "everyone was wondering before the car ran whether it would turn - in fact it probably turned too well and we have made some improvements in that area.

"It is great to kick off the European testing, because Le Mans is looming fast. Sebring was obviously a lot warmer and sunnier, but the conditions we had today could be exactly like you face at Le Mans sometimes.

"Getting that wet weather running under our belt - working with Michelin on the tyres - we now know what to expect."

The Nissan DeltaWing will make its debut at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours two months from now.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

OK it looks wierd, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It seems that the DeltaWing eats up the track pretty well. LeMans, of course, will tell. Now we wait for all those brilliant naysayers to chime in. Anyone?

Bruce H. Anderson

Cool! with a capital K. Although judging by it's appearance I'm predicting people will start to name it the Bat Mobile, assuming it stays black. I'm guessing it would handle very much the same as a side car but without the swinger. It's good to see the crazy French helping the crazy Japanese, it's a good combination. My prediction is it will do well down the straights and through the slower corners but will struggle for grip in the faster corners, I can see all that aerodynamics working against it in the faster corners. So a track like Le Mans it should be very competitive, if the front tires don't wear out faster than the rate of fuel consumption.


Its the Bee's Knee's! Outside the box thinking at its best!

Dave Maguire

how the hell's that tricycle gonna corner?

Steven Livingston

All I can think is....

Nananananana.... BATMAN!!!!

Ben Allison

Its good to take opponents off the track!!


Um it was crazy americans...pleasw get your facts straight http://www.autoblog.com/2012/03/13/nissan-backs-deltawing-racecar-headed-for-le-mans-w-video/ Dan Gurney's All american racers and Don Panoz are the driving forces behind this car.

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