Two years ago, the car you see here was rejected as a possible IndyCar design for 2012, but their loss is Le Mans’ gain, as it has now left the concept stage and become an actual race car which will be pounding around La Sarthe this June.
The DeltaWing began life as a joint Lola/Chip Ganassi Racing project, before Nissan, Michelin and other big-name sponsors got involved in order to bring the car to the most prestigious endurance racing event of them all.
Nissan has supplied the DeltaWing’s engine, which surprisingly is derived from the same 1.6 liter turbocharged unit found inside the Juke, and it develops 300 bhp in race trim. While this isn’t very much for a race car, and considerably less than the normal 500 bhp+ found in most LMP1 cars, the DeltaWing is very, very light. Fully laden with fuel and a driver, the DeltaWing weighs 1,300 pounds (590 kg) or around half a regular Le Mans’ racer.
Cars with low weight and small engines means better fuel consumption, less wear on tires and brakes, and lower emissions. This is viewed as the future of racing from an environmental perspective, and the FIA has also recently confirmed Formula One will be using 1.6 turbo V6 power-plants from 2014.
It’s the car right?
The striking design, so reminiscent of the Batmobile found in Tim Burton’s movies, hides an unusual layout. The engine and driver are positioned way back on the carbon-fiber, rear-wheel drive chassis, meaning 70-percent of the car’s weight in supported by the rear wheels, and the front tires are just 10 cm wide. Despite this, according to test driver Marino Franchitti, it still manages to handle really well.
He also promises that thanks to a trick exhaust the DeltaWing sounds like a racing car and not a Ford Focus, saying it reminds him of the sound made by the legendary Group C cars from the 80s.
The DeltaWing has been testing at the Buttonwillow Raceway in California recently, and will make its public debut at the Sebring International Raceway on 15 March. The on-track tests have so far been given a “ten out of ten” success rating by the team, and once Sebring has been completed, it’s off to France.
Unfortunately, the DeltaWing isn’t going to be officially competing in the Le Mans 24-hour race, as it’s going to wear the number zero on its flanks, and be housed inside Garage 56 in the pits. Reserved for the testing of concept and experimental cars, this means the DeltaWing will be taking part in a non-competitive role, but it’s sure to draw plenty of attention regardless of whether it’s able to win or not.
The Le Mans 24-hour race starts on 16 June, but in the meantime you can see the DeltaWing in action in the video below.