After the disappointing and premature end to the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the Nissan DeltaWing the experimental car will return to racing action at Petit Le Mans next month, again run by Highcroft Racing.
“Le Mans was a huge success for us,” said Nissan Europe general manager Darren Cox. “The car did everything we wanted it to do and more, proving that the pioneering technology we were testing in the world’s most public laboratory works and is a viable option for the future sustainability of motorsport.”
“The only thing that didn’t go our way was the way the race ended for us, which was entirely out of our control. Because we’d proven the technology worked, it was hard to be too disappointed, but we were blown away by the level of support and goodwill that came our way from the fans so now we feel we owe it to them to race again.”
Pre-existing commitments for the trio of drivers who raced the Ben Bowlby designed car at Le Mans mean an all-new driving line-up has been recruited for the 10 hour, 1,000 mile race at Road Atlanta. Gunnar Jeannette, an experienced racer in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) will be joined by Spanish Nissan PlayStation GT Academy graduate Lucas Ordonez.
“I’m very proud that Lucas will get his chance in the car,” said Cox. “The GT Academy is a major innovation in motorsport that is making the elitist sport of motor racing genuinely accessible to everyone, including those who do not have access to big budgets and sponsorship. Lucas is living proof that the innovation works.”
“At Petit Le Mans,” Bowlby said. “We will get the chance to show the US fans just how cool this car is but also the chance to prove that it works on a much tighter, twistier road course, rather than the flat-out, 300kmh, Le Mans-style racetrack. It’s important for us to gain in lap experience, testing and driver feedback and really validate the whole concept.”
It was also announced that DeltaWing, which is powered by a 1.6 litre Nissan engine especially designed for the car and runs on bespoke Michelin tyres, was eligible to run in the 2013 ALMS, with the potential for it to compete in the newly merged North American sportscar series in 2014.
The Petit Le Mans date gives the DeltaWing team a chance to finish what they started when running as the Garage 56 entry at Le Mans in June. Japanese Nissan driver Satoshi Motoyama was swiped off the track by countryman Kazuki Nakajima in the his LMP1 Toyota. Motoyama’s efforts, trying in vain to fix the mortally wounded DeltaWing to drive the short distance back to the pits earned him and the team enormous respect from fans both at the track and around the world when the footage appeared on Youtube.