The Nissan DeltaWing race car arrived at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans full of promise, only to retire from the race after just six hours due to crash damage. Fortunately, the unique dart-shaped DeltaWing will have another chance to show its potential when the car competes in the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta later this year.
The 1000-mile, 10-hour Petit Le Mans is the final race for this year's American Le Mans Series season, and takes place October 17-20. The DeltaWing will be allowed to compete, giving Nissan another chance to prove the car can meet its two stated goals: use half as much fuel and half as many tires as typical endurance race cars. The Deltawing is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four Nissan engine that makes about 300 hp.
"At Petit Le Mans, we will get the chance to show the U.S. fans just how cool this car is," DeltaWing designer Ben Bowlby said in a statement. "It's important for us to gain lap experience, testing, and driver feedback and really validate the whole concept."
Data collected by the race team at Le Mans showed the DeltaWing was meeting its fuel-economy goal. Whereas other LMP2 racers burned fuel at a rate of 5 mpg, the DeltaWing averaged 10.7 mpg over the course of 623 miles. Unfortunately, after six hours of racing the DeltaWing collided with a Toyota hybrid race car. Despite efforts to revive the DeltaWing, the car ultimately had to retire from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
After its appearance at Road Atlanta in October, the Nissan DeltaWing will have a few months off before campaigning in a full race season. The car will compete in the 2013 ALMS season, and provisions have already been made for the DeltaWing to continue in 2014 in the newly merged ALMS and Grand-Am series. That should give the car's creators ample time to demonstrate how well their daring idea works in a real-world race championship.