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Nissan backs radical DeltaWing racecar program

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0700

Nissan has announced its involvement in a radical new motorsport project, dubbed the DeltaWing, which will race at the Le Mans 24 Hours this summer using Nissan power.

The car is the work of Ben Bowlby who originally designed the car as a proposal for the 2012 IndyCar racer, which has since found the attention of Nissan after its rejection by the American race championship. The headlines of the design are that it's half the weight and has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer and is therefore far more efficient.

The design and engineering philosophy of the DeltaWing design is completely different to other current racing cars, with the driver sat very far back – almost over the rear axle – looking down a long, narrow fuselage that cover extremely narrow front tires.

Ground-effects aerodynamics control the air under the car to suck it to the road, negating the need for spoilers and further reducing drag. It also means the car is impervious to the turbulent air of cars in front, which usually reduces downforce and therefore grip. The extremely narrow nose keeps frontal area to a minimal as do the skinny (just 100mm wide) front tires, especially developed by Michelin.

The engine, a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder turbo until is based on that found in the Nissan Juke and produces around 300hp, sufficient to give the DeltaWing lap times between LMP1 and LMP2 machines at Le Mans, despite having only half the power of those conventional prototypes.

In recognition of the radical design and technology used within the DeltaWing, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) – which organizes the famous Le Mans 24 Hours – has invited the car to run this year from ‘Garage 56', the spot traditionally reserved for experimental cars.

Dan Gurney's legendary All American Racers organization has built the DeltaWing, with the racecar constructor already having produced 157 different cars that have earned victories in Formula 1 and the Indianapolis 500. We'll have to wait until the summer to find out if this can add to the tally.

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By Rufus Thompson