Nissan DeltaWing Finishes Petit Le Mans


Experimental racecar proves what its designers set out to prove by finishing its first race in fifth place.

We weren't sure they could do it, but the Nissan DeltaWing team was adamant, and it seems their hard work has paid off. After crashing out at Le Mans and again during the practice session for the Petit Le Mans this weekend, the DeltaWing team got its experimental prototype back on the track in plenty of time to not only compete in the thousand-mile American endurance classic, but finish the race - a first-time achievement for the advanced racing prototype. In fact, the DeltaWing finished fifth overall, a remarkable feat considering what the team had to do to get there.

Aside from representing a comprehensive re-think of what form a racing car could take, the team had to completely reconstruct its only car in 24 hours after it was demolished in that practice-session collision. Since the car was unclassified as an invitational entry for the ALMS season-closer at Road Atlanta, it was forced to start from the back of the grid.

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The DeltaWing subsequently suffered from some unfortunate safety-car timing to finish six laps behind the race winner, an LMP1 Lola B12/60, and three or four laps down from the three LMP2 cars that finished between and with which the DeltaWing aimed to compete. The remarkable finish goes some way towards demonstrating what the parties behind the DeltaWing have been trying to prove: namely, that a lighter-weight car with less power can actually keep the pace (or even beat) more powerful versions of existing Le Mans Prototypes. Who knows what might happen if the race officials let the DeltaWing compete on equal footing.