The Highcroft DeltaWing

In the week building up to the 12 Hours of Sebring last month, Highcroft Racing revealed their radical Le Mans competitor, the DeltaWing, will be powered by Nissan.  The Nissan 1.6-litre direct injection turbocharged engine will be badged after the Japanese manufacturer’s DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline – Turbocharged) technology.

The DeltaWing/Nissan combination produces 300 BHP.  While this is half of what the top P1 cars produce in terms of horse power, the DeltaWing only weighs half as much.  Additionally, it produces half as much drag – the design does away with conventional wings in favor of ground-effect aerodynamics.  The DeltaWing will also consume half as much fuel and go through half as many tires.  Useful attributes in an endurance race.

With this power-to-weight ratio, they’re predicting the DeltaWing will, in terms of speed and lap times, slot right in between the P1 and P2 cars.

Highcroft Racing gives us a taste of what the DeltaWing drives like.  Notice how it doesn’t have paddle shifters and that it can actually turn.

Here’s Nissan’s DeltaWing video.

Speaking to Top Gear Magazine, Marino Franchitti, younger brother of Dario and one of DeltaWing’s drivers for Le Mans, had this to say:

“It feels like an LMP car,” Marino told Top Gear. “This is something that’s completely outside the box, but as soon as you start driving it you know it’s a proper race car.”

The DeltaWing team have been testing on-track in the USA for the last few weeks, and have described the success of initial trials as ‘ten out of ten’.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to work,” said Marino, “but it does. The high-speed stability was very impressive. It’s mega.”

This week, the DeltaWing got it’s first taste of wet-weather testing.  Autosport.com had this report:

The radical Nissan DeltaWing sportscar project undertook its first wet weather running yesterday at Snetterton.

Marino Franchitti and long-term Nissan driver Michael Krumm shared control of the car at the Norfolk circuit, which also marked the project’s first European test.

Franchitti, who ran in the morning when conditions were at their worst, said the first wet run had provided the team with important data and given them a clear direction for future development.

“Mother nature really did us a favor today, because it was great to get another run in the wet,” Franchitti explained.

“The day allowed us to try the wet tires in a real world situation – we didn’t have to wet the track at all, it was a proper wet, rainy day. [It] has really given us some important data and provided Michelin with some clear direction for future development.”

Nissan Europe’s general manager Darren Cox added: “The whole Nissan DeltaWing team is still on a massive learning curve.

“Testing in the States was a stable, predictable way of doing the initial groundwork but this exciting car is going to be racing in the French countryside.

“Today, the whole team got a taste of the conditions they may well face on June 16/17, so it may not have been much fun in the Norfolk rain, but it’s about the best thing that could have happened for a project and a car that will face an enormous challenge just to make the end of the race.”

Only 2 months until Le Mans and this year’s race is shaping up to be the most technologically advanced race we’ve ever seen.  With the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the new Toyota TS030 Hybrid, and the DeltaWing, we are on the bleeding edge of racing technologies.  It’s no longer about top speed with big engines and good aerodynamics, the manufacturers are fully on board with advancing racing tech with the goal of moving what works on the track into our daily commuters.

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