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by Tim Beissmann

It looks like the Batmobile and the people behind the Nissan DeltaWing experimental racecar call it “this generation’s most revolutionary and exciting motorsport project”.

The DeltaWing is being prepared for the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race in June, but Nissan and the other major contributors already know that it has no chance of winning. That’s because the radical concept doesn’t conform to any existing championship regulations, and will have no direct competitors.

Accordingly, the Nissan DeltaWing will race with the number ‘0’ on its body and will run from ‘Garage 56’ – the spot in pit lane reserved for experimental competitors.

The DeltaWing was developed by British designer Ben Bowlby, US motorsport entrepreneur Don Panoz, former US Formula 1 driver Dan Gurney, the Highcroft Racing Team and Michelin Tyres North America.

It’s powered by a race-prepared 1.6-litre four-cylinder DIG-T Nissan engine, which Bowlby said was the team’s first choice powerplant.

“It’s a spectacular piece. We’ve got the engine of our dreams: it’s the right weight, has the right power and it’s phenomenally efficient.”

The direct injection turbocharged engine will produce around 224kW of power, and the team expects it to achieve lap times between the LMP1 and LMP2 cars, despite having only half the power of those prototypes.

Nissan Motor Co. executive vice president Andy Palmer says the DeltaWing could shape the future of endurance motorsport, and insists the research and development work going into the car will filter down to Nissan’s future production car range.

The Nissan DeltaWing is approximately half the weight and has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer. The driver sits almost over the rear axle with a view over the long, narrow fuselage to the thin twin front tyres that have been specially developed by Michelin. All the weight is at the rear, which Nissan says makes the DeltaWing highly manoeuvrable.

The DeltaWing will be piloted by Briton Marino Franchitti and reigning FIA GT1 world champion Michael Krumm. The first public demo laps will take place at Sebring, Florida tomorrow.




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