Le Mans 2012: what's all this Nissan DeltaWing business, then?
It's mad, but will it be bad? At this stage no one has a clue.
No one has ever gone racing in anything like this before. The idea is to halve everything – the engine, the aerodynamics, the tyres – and in the process massively improve efficiency without losing speed. It’s powered by a motorsport version of the 1.6-litre turbo petrol from the Nissan Juke, and is expected to use half the fuel.
The front tyres are just four inches across. In yesterday’s Nissan press conference, driver Michael Krumm revealed that not even he understand how it goes around corners. The sheer radicalness of the design throws up other problems you might not necessarily consider as well – there are no normal frames of references, so exactly how do the guys behind the wheel ask the engineers to make changes to the way it drives?
Actually getting it round the track is apparently quite straight forward – despite the nose being considerably narrower than the back. According to another DeltaWing pilot, Marino Franchitti, you quickly learn to adapt. By “you” he presumably means “professional racing drivers”. And in spite of the weird way it looks it can basically keep pace with the front running LMP1 cars through fast corners and under braking. Just not so much on the straights…
It starts the race in 29th. Pobably would have been higher still if Krumm hadn’t hit a crow mid session. Further intrigue is added by the rain this morning, however. Rumour is the DeltaWing is exceptionally quick in the wet. If the sopping weather we’ve got right now carries on all afternoon, it could spring a bit of surprise.
If you want to follow the DeltaWing’s progress more closely there’s a “DeltaWing Cam” that’s set to go live around about the 3pm start time today (that's 2pm in the UK), displaying images from a camera mounted in the forward edge of the tail fin. Find it here.
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Which of these endangered 1970s and 80s cars would you be saddest to see become extinct?
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