The crash at Road Atlanta was scary, and at the same time spectacular. It also reminded us that there exists a major speed differential between the fast prototypes and the slower GT cars. There was an approximate gap of 17.287 miles per hour between the Nissan DeltaWing and the Green Hornet Porsche 911 GT3, but was that the reason for the horrific accident?
The video clearly shows that Gunnar Jeannette had just overtaken Peter LeSaffre when at the blink of an eye; the Porsche suddenly hit the DeltaWing in the left rear wheel.
The Nissan DeltaWing car is still an experimental car that has put in hours of private and open testing since its development. In fact for the Petit Le Mans event, the car is listed as “unclassified”. This is the second special invitation for the DeltaWing to race with the world’s fastest prototypes. The first was the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
During one of the many battles between the Audi and Toyota teams on the La Sarthe circuit, the DeltaWing was being passed by those fighting for the lead at the quarter-distance mark. Kazuki Nakajima in the #7 Toyota was the one who ended the hopes of the dart-shaped car.
Were the two incidents just the standard “racing incidents”?
In the case of the crash at Road Atlanta, it does appear that the pass was clean. However viewing the incident, it appears that LeSaffre was drifting to the left side of the circuit and then over-corrected before he lost control and slammed into Jeannette who then went for one heck of a ride; rolling over before the car landed on its wheels.
At Le Mans, Nakajima apologized to the Nissan DeltaWing team as he claimed the accident was his fault. In fact, he was correct. As the leaders cleared the DeltaWing, Nakajima made a move to overtake another car when he had not yet cleared the DeltaWing that was on his driver’s right side.
There have been many a time when the faster prototype drivers have been over-aggressive. Yet at the same time the slower GT drivers know to watch their mirrors and give space; mainly by holding their line.
Two crashes for the radical prototype out of two events does make one wonder if there is a reason, or were they both just the typical race track incidents?
At Road Atlanta, LeSaffre claimed that he was the one hit. “I had no place to go. I was tracking out on the curb. My steering wheel was straight, and he whacked me.”
Besides its small front tires, its odd shape, and the fact that its size is approximately less than two-thirds of any of the P1 cars, the DeltaWing is black – all black except a touch of white! In the old days a car that had “no presence” on track is nearly the same as saying it is “ghost” car.
You be the judge!