The Nissan DeltaWing will kick off the next phase of its development for this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans in Europe after departing Don Panoz's Elan Motorsports Technologies in Georgia yesterday.
After a week of testing at the world's toughest sportscar course, Sebring International Raceway, the car headed to Atlanta for final preparation prior to its scheduled European test program.
It was a whirlwind month of March for the Nissan DeltaWing team. The program kicked into high gear on March 13 with the launch of the Nissan partnership in London followed by the official unveiling of the race car at Sebring two days later on March 15.
With the initial prototype built by Dan Gurney's All American Racers group in California, Panoz's EMT organization were put to work this week to fine tune components and bodywork - using the lessons learned from the initial shakedown test at Buttonwillow in California and the Sebring test to refine the Nissan DeltaWing "mobile experiment".
Like Gurney's All American Racers group, Elan has a winning pedigree having designed and built the Indy 500 and IndyCar championship-winning G-Force chassis, the DP01 Champ Car, the DP09 Superleague Formula chassis as well as cars for IMSA Lites and F2000 competition in the US.
The Nissan DeltaWing will debut at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans as an additional 56th entry - an opportunity reserved by the event organizers the Automobile Club de l'Ouest for vehicles featuring new and innovative technologies.
Nissan are not only providing the 1.6 liter turbocharged engine for the DeltaWing. Nissan technical personnel have been embedded within the DeltaWing team since the manufacturer first became involved and it's commitment now ramps up another level as the programme moves to Europe.
The DeltaWing program was original launched at last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans by Panoz, Gurney, DeltaWing designer Ben Bowlby and Highcroft Racing's Duncan Dayton.
Michelin also has embedded personnel in the program with the car running unique development tires previously unseen in international sportscar competition. The front tires on the Nissan DeltaWing are only four inches wide.
BEN BOWLBY - NISSAN DELTAWING CONCEPT ORIGINATOR
"There were a lot of lessons learned from our week in testing at Sebring. With the bumps, it is certainly very tough on every component and that was one of the attractions of testing there. "We've been able to make some adjustments to the car and we will continue to do so right up to the green flag at Le Mans. "Overall however, we are very pleased with the performance and the car confirmed our simulations that it does indeed turn and turns remarkably well. "While this car has half as many components as a traditional LMP car, there are still more than 3,000 new parts that have never been bolted together before. The guys did a fantastic job last week and having access to the EMT facilities this week has been brilliant. We've made a great start and we're all now very much looking forward to hitting the track in Europe."
DON PANOZ - NISSAN DELTAWING MANAGING PARTNER
"The world-wide reponse to this car has been unbelievable. It is very rewarding to see that kind of attention paid because we are involved in this project because we think it is a game changer. "It is what is needed in racing. We need to let go of the past and look forward to better fuel and tire efficiency without sacrificing any performance. "The fact the car is so different looking has attracted so much attention but the reason why it looks like it does is because that is what is needed to produce these kind of results. "EMT has been involved in building a lot of cars in the past and we've been delighted to be involved in helping make some refinements this week using the lessons learned at Sebring. "With any new car, there are always some things you need to update after you have done some initial miles and we now look forward to the next phase of development in Europe."
DARREN COX, GENERAL MANAGER, NISSAN IN EUROPE:
"This really is a rolling science project for Nissan. The timescales are extremely tight and we are learning every day and will do so all the way to the start of Le Mans 24 hours. "At Sebring the basic concept exceeded our expectations, Nissan’s role now is to work on the reliability as we take more responsibility for the programme as it moves to Europe. "The project continues on a very steep learning curve and this is motivating and exciting everyone on the project."