The DeltaWing is a Nissan-powered race car that will run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, from June 16-17, an endurance race that lasts a full day. The Batmobile-looking racer took its first test drive in the U.S. before it ships off to France for the marathon race.
The car is built by several racings firms and suppliers, headed by Ben Bowbly and endurance-racing backer Don Panos, reported Yahoo. The Deltawing stemmed from the desire to create a racer as an alternative to IndyCars, since Indy racing recently decided to stick with a traditional design to their vehicles. DeltawWing's backers wanted to create the vehicle to prove a non-traditional looking racer could work.
The rocket-shaped DeltaWing is built to resemble a land-speed racer. It weighs half what a regular Le Mans race car would and is more aerodynamic due to the narrow frame.
Nissan understood immediately what we were trying to do, and they also saw that the car fitted their philosophy of making efficiency cool, said Bowlby, according to ESPN. We've got the engine of our dreams: It's the right weight, has the right power and it's phenomenally efficient. And then there's the credibility of having an OEM at Le Mans in the experimental class making history, which is what this is all about.
Scottish racecar driver Marino Franchitti, 33, will be driving the new DeltaWing. Behind his driver's seat, there is a 4-cylinder Nissan engine, adapted from the Juke, reported the New York Times, that runs at about 300 horse power.
For the past two weeks, Franchitti and the developers have been preparing the car, hammering out the details and addressing all potential concerns, ensuring the car drives the way it was intended.
Surprisingly lacking in drama, despite what it looks like on the outside, Franchitti said, according to the New York Times. It does everything properly, as it should.
Nissan is hailing the DeltaWing as an innovation that will have lingering effects for racers and race car designers.
DeltaWing is a test bed for innovation, said Darren Cox, general manager of Nissan Europe, according to ESPN. It's somewhere we can learn, in a very difficult environment, about the technology of downsizing and the responsiveness of turbochargers, for example. In addition, as the project has progressed, we have embedded more and more engineers in the project and will continue to do so. They will learn a huge amount from the lightweight and aerodynamic philosophy of the car.
A video released of the batmobile shows the DeltaWing smoothly driving along the track.
It's got a very benign, but exciting, handling characteristic because when you reach the threshold of grip, the tendency is towards oversteer, Bowlby said, according to ESPN. This is unusual in a rear-engine racing car which, unless provoked, is normally an understeer-limited vehicle with an inevitable snap oversteer event at the limit of control. From a racing driver's standpoint, understeer is an unstable condition because you can't correct it other than by slowing the car and starting again. But with controlled oversteer -- intrinsic in the layout of DeltaWing -- it's much more controllable.