Nissan announced today their intention to showcase their unique prototype at the American Le Mans Series season finale. One of the two crown jewels in the Georgia-based sportscar series always has a sold out audience for the 1,000 miles or 10 hour race, whichever comes first. This will mark the second race that the DeltaWing will contest. The first of course was the 24 Hours of Le Mans race that was also an FIA World Endurance Championship event.
The first race for the DeltaWing was the 24 Hours of Le Mans under “experimental” with the number zero and had it finish the challenging event on the La Sarthe circuit, the team and drivers could not score points. After being forced out of the Le Mans race due to a crash, Nissan is pleased to announce the news that the DeltaWing will participate in the Petit Le Mans event on the Road Atlanta road course.
We will get the chance to show the US fans just how cool this car is ...
"Le Mans was a huge success for us - the car did everything we wanted it to do and more, proving that the pioneering technology we were testing in the world's most public laboratory works and is a viable option for the future sustainability of motorsport," said Darren Cox, General Manager, Nissan in Europe.
Nissan DeltaWing's visionary creator, Ben Bowlby, said: "At Petit Le Mans, we will get the chance to show the US fans just how cool this car is but also the chance to prove that it works on a much tighter, twistier road course, rather than the flat-out, 300kmh, Le Mans-style racetrack. It's important for us to gain in lap experience, testing and driver feedback and really validate the whole concept."
In Nashville, Tennessee, Nissan Americas Vice Chairman Bill Krueger was pleased to announce the news of the DeltaWing’s new adventure. Per Nissan, they have ‘unfinished business'.
Indeed they do! No one will forget the scene of their Japanese driver, Satoshi Motoyama, working valiantly to repair the car and drive it back to the pits. Team members could only stay behind the fence and had him the tools and walk him through the procedure. For at least, if not more, than 90 minutes, the Nismo driver finally had to admit defeat.
Speaking about the team's withdrawal in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Cox said, "The only thing that didn't go our way was the way the race ended for us, which was entirely out of our control. Because we'd proven the technology worked, it was hard to be too disappointed, but we were blown away by the level of support and goodwill that came our way from the fans so now we feel we owe it to them to race again."
Unfortunately the three drivers who took on the first race challenge have previous commitments; therefore Motoyama, Marino Franchitti, and Michael Krumm will not contest the Petit Le Mans event. Lucas Ordonez and Gunnar Jeannette have been confirmed as two of their drivers.
ALMS founder Dr. Don Panoz was behind the DeltaWing aka ‘Project 56' from the start, and he commented: "Petit Le Mans has built up a reputation as one of the largest sportscar races in the world. Every section of the Nissan organisation has supported this car and I think the fans will love getting to see what Racer magazine called a ‘gamechanger'.”
The recent merger between the Grand-Am Road Racing Rolex Series and the ALMS may open more doors for unique prototypes. It was noted at the time the two top American-based sportscar series that indeed the DeltaWing would be classified to contest the new future series in 2014. Today’s news gave the full picture that the radical car will race in 2013 – the final year of separation between the two series.
Besides Panoz and Bowlby, the key partners for the DeltaWing include Chip Ganassi who is the owner of teams in both the Rolex series and IndyCar, Highcroft Racing team owner Duncan Dayton, and Dan Gurney's All-American Racers organisation. The official tire partner is Michelin.
Panoz confirmed the future by saying, "The DeltaWing can race in the 2013 American Le Mans Series and it is part of the merger agreement for ALMS and GRAND-AM. Safety and performance standards have to be achieved, but it needs to be reviewed. For 2014, the new series would incorporate Daytona prototypes, Le Mans prototypes, and maybe even a DeltaWing."