LE MANS, France – The Nissan DeltaWing completed its first running on the famous 8.5 mile Circuit de la Sarthe today – the home of the upcoming 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Invited to compete under the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s “Garage 56” classification that showcases new and innovative technology, the Nissan DeltaWing completed 54 laps with drivers Michael Krumm, Satoshi Motoyama and Marino Franchitti at the wheel.
The team enjoyed a virtually trouble-free day and completed every lap but one on a single set of Michelin slick tires. A sole lap on wet tires during a brief rain shower was the only time the team switched tires all day.
Motoyama completed the fastest lap of the day at 3 minutes, 47.980 seconds. The Nissan DeltaWing technical team, led by concept originator Ben Bowlby, believe they are comfortably within reach of their target pace of 3 minutes, 45 seconds as requested by race officials.
With Motoyama not having raced at Le Mans since 1999 and Krumm since 2005, both drivers had to complete a mandatory 10 laps to qualify for the race.
Both easily achieved that goal, Motoyama completing 19 laps and Krumm 24. With Marino Franchitti handling most of the pre-event testing and development, the Scottish racer only handled 11 laps today – the team taking the opportunity to get his Japanese and German teammates more accustomed with the car.
“The important thing for us today was to get Michael and Satoshi qualified for the race and we achieved that quite easily,” said Franchitti. “I’m really pleased for everyone involved in putting the Nissan DeltaWing program together. There has been an enormous amount of work and it is very gratifying that today has gone well.”
Krumm was the first man to drive the car before handing over to Motoyama who completed the morning session. Franchitti kicked off the afternoon session, which include the sole lap on wet Michelin tires before continuing the driver rotation to Krumm and Motoyama, who closed out the day.
The unique Nissan DeltaWing features half the weight, half the horsepower and half the aerodynamic drag of a typical prototype and is expected to enjoy significantly lower tire and fuel consumption.
Powered by a 300 horsepower 1.6 liter Nissan DIG-T turbocharged engine, the Nissan DeltaWing also features specially developed Michelin tires which are four inches wide at the front.
The team will now return to the UK tomorrow to complete final preparations for the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team transporter will return next weekend before the car goes through pre-event tech inspection in downtown Le Mans at the Place de la Republique.