The Nissan-powered DeltaWing took its first laps at speed last weekend on the roads of Le Mans in preparation for this weekend's race. To the surprise of a few, nothing dramatic happened; in fact, the DeltaWing was close to the target pace set by Le Mans organizers of lapping the circuit in 3 minutes, 47.98 seconds -- making it faster than all GT cars and on pace with the second-level prototypes. It's a real race car.
The physics behind the DeltaWing move against many trends in racing. By maximizing lightness and aerodynamics, the DeltaWing needs a much smaller engine -- just 300 hp -- and less fuel and tires to move quickly. Even though its front Michelin tires are just four inches wide apiece, the DeltaWing completed nearly all its laps on one set. Any worries that those wheels couldn't handle the necessary cornering forces also went to rest with the test.
The DeltaWing will run but not compete at Le Mans, being so radically different from the rest of the field. Backers hope to prove the concept can be used somewhere else in racing, and while IndyCar rejected the idea last year, a quick 24 hours at Le Mans should revive some interest.
by Justin Hyde | Motoramic