14/03/2012 09:07 | By Sean Carson, contributor

Nissan DeltaWing Le Mans racing car

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Nissan has revealed it will supply the engine powering the radical new DeltaWing technological concept set to race at the 24 hours of Le Mans in June.

The engine is related to the turbocharged petrol motor found in the top-line Nissan Juke - and it is the DeltaWing's radical design that has ensured this engine is sufficient to take on the challenge of the world's most famous sports car race.

According to the car's chief designer, Ben Bowlby, the unique looking sports prototype is based on a "half everything" philosophy. This means the car's drag, weight and front tyre width - standing at just four inches wide per tyre - are all around 50 per cent of that of a normal Le Mans car.

Thanks to lower drag and an associated reduction in power needed to propel the car to its targeted 300kph (186mph) top speed, the DeltaWing also halves fuel consumption, and therefore the weight of fuel it has to carry, compared to a more conventional prototype.

Nissan DeltaWing (© Nissan)

The car is powered by a 300hp 1.6-litre turbocharged direct-injection engine loosely based on the top-spec Nissan Juke's 1.6 DIG-T unit - a move which Nissan claims will help translate improvements in efficiency on the racetrack to the road.

According to Darren Cox, Nissan Europe General Manager: "DeltaWing is about relevance, and we want relevance to our road cars. Downsizing and improving efficiency is high on Nissan's agenda and the innovations from the DeltaWing project will directly benefit our road cars in the future."

competitive lap times

Although the car is not eligible for overall victory at Le Mans - it will compete in its own special open class designed to showcase future innovations and technology in motorsport - it should turn competitive lap times according to one of the car's three drivers, Marino Franchitti:

"The DeltaWing is easy to drive and behaves like a normal LMP car really. The handling is very consistent and controllable - almost benign - and we're predicting a lap time in between that of the LMP1 and LMP2 cars," said the Scot.

Despite its unusual looks, the DeltaWing actually uses an established strategy and readily available technology in a bid to keep costs sane, but also provide a tangible link to road car products.

With automotive technology such as disc brakes, direct fuel injection and dual-clutch gearboxes all pioneered (and later developed for road car use) through competition at the Le Mans 24 hours, Nissan is keen to prove the relevance of the DeltaWing project to the modern-day issue of improving efficiency.

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