NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The team behind the radical Nissan DeltaWing has declared it has unfinished business after being unceremoniously shoved out of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours in June.
The fan favorite team will return to finish what it started at the event’s little brother, Petit Le Mans.
The pioneering, dart-shaped Nissan DeltaWing, which captured the hearts of 240,000 Le Mans 24 Hour fans three months ago, will race again at next month’s American Le Mans Series (ALMS) finale at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., on Oct. 17-20.
Led by Nissan Americas Vice-Chairman, Bill Krueger, the announcement took place today at Nissan’s North American headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.
Designed and built with the aim of completing the famous Le Mans 24 Hours using half the fuel and half the tires of contemporary sports prototypes, Nissan DeltaWing was forced to retire from the French endurance classic after six hours, following contact with another car.
The plight of Japanese Nismo racing driver, Satoshi Motoyama, who tried heroically to repair the impact damage by the side of the Le Mans circuit for 90 minutes before having to admit defeat, garnered massive support for the team from fans, whose demands for it to return to the racetrack will now be satisfied.
Existing race commitments mean that all three of the Nissan DeltaWing Le Mans drivers – Motoyama, Marino Franchitti and Michael Krumm – are unavailable for the prestigious Petit Le Mans ALMS race. Nissan’s original GT Academy champion, Spaniard Lucas Ordonez is set to race the car at Road Atlanta, along with American Le Mans Series 2011 PC class champion Gunnar Jeannette.
“Le Mans was a huge success for us – 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,” said Darren Cox, general manager, Nissan in Europe. “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.”
The team believes that the 1,000-mile, 10-hour Petit Le Mans race is the perfect event for Nissan DeltaWing to not only give fans the race finish they desire, but also demonstrate its prowess on a more traditional track, as opposed to the high-speed Le Mans circuit, which also utilizes public roads.
The Nissan DeltaWing team comprises a group of key partners including American motorsport entrepreneur Don Panoz; project patron and Indy 500 team owner, Chip Ganassi; designer Ben Bowlby; tire supplier, Michelin, Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers organisation and Duncan Dayton’s Highcroft Racing team.
“Petit Le Mans has built up a reputation as one of the largest sportscar races in the world,” said Panoz. “Every section of the Nissan organisation has supported this car and I think the fans will love getting to see what Racer magazine called a ‘gamechanger’. The DeltaWing can race in the 2013 American Le Mans Series and it is part of the merger agreement for ALMS and Grand-Am. Safety and performance standards have to be achieved, but it needs to be reviewed. For 2014, the new series would incorporate Daytona prototypes, Le Mans prototypes, and maybe even a DeltaWing.”