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Radical DeltaWing race car gains Nissan backing

Not the new Batmobile, despite appearances...

DeltaWing, an experimental racecar project set to compete in the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race has this week received a massive boost by being partnered by Nissan.

Nissan's contribution comes in the form of their 1.6-liter DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline - Turbocharged) engine. Meanwhile, Nissan will benefit from the lessons learned with the DeltaWing which will simultaneously act as test bed for new road car technologies.

The ground-breaking DeltaWing project was first announced in 2010 as a design proposal for Indycar but then received approval in 2011 to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012. The DeltaWing is a radical take on the race car idea, stemming from the designer’s decision to start with a completely clean sheet of paper. Aerodynamics and low weight were the priorities and that resulted in the very strange shape we can see in the gallery and the video below. There is an unusually thin front track, with a rapidly widening body leading to the passenger compartment and engine bay.

Originally backed by British designer Ben Bowlby, Don Panoz and the All-American Racers organization the DeltaWing effort is known as Project 56 which highlights the fact that the car is a special 56th entry at Le Mans reserved for "a vehicle showcasing new applications and unique technologies previously unseen in the world's greatest endurance race."

The race-prepared 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine is expected to produce around 300 bhp which is only half the power of conventional racecar prototypes. However, the Nissan DeltaWing which boasts half the weight and half the aerodynamic drag is capable of lap times between LMP1 and LMP2 machines at Le Mans.

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 on March 15. At Le Mans the Deltwing will wear number "0" and run outside race classifications.

We can’t wait to see the car compete, as in all honesty we don’t know how it manages to handle a twisty circuit at all well. With such a thin front track logic dictates that the car would just understeer. But Nissan seem to be confident the DeltaWing can be competitive and we’re excited to see new technology in motorsports.

Images courtesy of Nissan

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About Tim Oldland

Contributing Editor - Long time petrolhead, automotive design engineer and journalist. Also Social Media Manager for the ecurie25 Group - Tim has worked in the automotive sector for many years, but has been a fan of anything with 2 or 4... read more