As predicted earlier today, Nissan has announced their partnership with the DeltaWing project, which sees the most innovative race car for (several) generations compete in this year’s Le Mans 24 hours.
While Nissan DeltaWing will be un-classified in the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours and run the number “0”, the company is looking to showcase its pioneering technology and show one potential direction for the future of motorsport.
Earlier this morning, speaking to John Hindhaugh on Radio Le Mans, Nissan Europe’s Darren Cox spoke about the relevance of the DeltaWing project to ordinary road cars, accusing Formula 1 technology of being too far removed from what people in the street can relate to.
A race-prepared 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, featuring direct petrol injection and a turbocharger, will power Nissan DeltaWing, which is half the weight and has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer.
The engine, badged DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline – Turbocharged), is expected to produce around 300hp, sufficient to give Nissan DeltaWing lap times between LMP1 and LMP2 machines at Le Mans, despite having only half the power of those conventional prototypes. It features the same technology found in Nissan road cars, such as the range-topping Nissan Juke DIG-T.
Nissan’s drive for efficiency will see car use half the fuel of its conventional counterparts, bringing Nissan “PureDrive” principles to the track.
“As motor racing rulebooks have become tighter over time, racing cars look more and more similar and the technology used has had less and less relevance to road car development.
Nissan DeltaWing aims to change that and we were an obvious choice to become part of the project,” said Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
“But this is just the start of our involvement. Nissan DeltaWing embodies a vast number of highly-innovative ideas that we can learn from. At the same time, our engineering resources and commitment to fuel efficiency leadership via our PureDrive strategy will help develop DeltaWing into a testbed of innovation for Nissan.”
“This announcement gives Nissan the opportunity to become part of a ground-breaking motorsport project and one which could shape the future of the sport,” he added.
The DeltaWing race car
Nissan DeltaWing is unlike any other racing car currently on track. The driver sits well back in the car, almost over the rear axle and looks ahead down a long, narrow fuselage to narrow twin front tyres, specially created for the car by tyre partner Michelin.
With a rear-mounted engine, the car has a strong rearward weight bias, which makes it highly manoeuvrable, while its light weight and slippery shape make it far more efficient.
Its innovative design and forward-looking technology have encouraged the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), the organisers of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours, to invite the car to run in this year’s race from ‘Garage 56’, the spot in the pitlane reserved for experimental cars. As it doesn’t conform to any existing championship regulations, Nissan DeltaWing will not be eligible to challenge for silverware and will carry the race number ‘0’.
Nissan’s expertise has been applied to the development of the engine, in order to make it light and efficient enough to prove the philosophy behind the concept can work in ‘real-world’ motor racing.
The Company, always among the first to embrace such radical ideas and surprising new performance innovations, has promised to apply key learnings from the experience to inform strategies for its PureDrive aerodynamics and efficiency package for road cars, as well as its overall research & development programmes.
The first two Nissan DeltaWing drivers to be confirmed are British Sportscar racer Marino Franchitti and Nissan’s reigning FIA GT1 World Champion Michael Krumm. The car will make its first public demo laps at Sebring, Florida, at 12.30pm local time on Thursday, March 15.