The revolutionary 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.
Krumm was the first man to drive the car before handing over to Motoyama who completed the morning session. Franchitti kicked off the afternoon running 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.
Official practice kicks off on Wednesday, June 8 at 4:00pm.
“We’ve certainly had a very productive day and it has been great to get so many laps under our belt.
“Other than the one lap I did on wets, we spent the entire day on a single set of Michelin tires which is quite amazing.
“The important thing for us today was to get Michael and Satoshi qualified for the race and we achieved that quite easily. 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.
“I’ve really been looking forward to driving the car and it didn’t disappoint. We gathered a lot of data which we’ll examine over the next week and work on making the car even better.”
“We had a great day and ran without any issues or troubles all day – that is fantastic for the project.
“We tested out different setups, collected data, worked on fuel consumption and everything went very well with all of that.
“We managed to meet our targets on fuel consumption which was great. All in all, it was a really successful test.
“We’re now going to analyze all the data and looking forward to next week. We hope we can continue to run without trouble.
“It is also great for me to be back at Le Mans. Some things have changed around the circuit but all the improvements have are really good.
“The car feels great around here. I was a little concerned about how the Nissan DeltaWing would feel through the Porsche Curves but it is absolutely fantastic and very stable. You can push really hard – so much fun to drive. I can’t wait for the race.”
“It has been 13 years since I raced here and I was a little nervous before today as I had to try to remember everything about the circuit.
“But it was a very good test today and everything went far better than I expected.
“The Nissan DeltaWing felt really strong today and it was great to get in plenty of laps because I now feel really comfortable in the car.
“There are fans around the world who are eagerly awaiting the chance to see this car run at Le Mans. That does provide a bit of added pressure but I am really looking to the race and it is great to be back at Le Mans again.”
“I certainly very happy with the results today. It would have been tragic if we had been plagued with technical issues when we were just trying to get drivers qualified for the race.
“We’ve shown the ACO that we’ve met their desired criteria to run a lap time of around 3 minutes, 45 seconds in around the same cadence as everyone else on pit stops.
“We’re very close to that time so you’d have to say today has been a great success.
“The physics didn’t lie and we’ve produced a car that does what it says on the box.
“There is still a lot of preparation to do this week and there is everything to play for. We have to be very sensible about it and try to put on a good show for Nissan and Michelin.”
“This morning if somebody had offered up the fact we’d complete more than 50 laps today I certainly would have taken it.
“I would have taken 20 just to get Michael and Satoshi qualified for the race.
“Myself and everyone from Nissan is very happy with how the day went and Ben Bowlby and all the team should certainly have a smile on their face.
“Ben certainly looks like he has aged 20 years in the last five weeks.
“There was a huge amount of tension in the garage this morning as there was a lot of apprehension as to how things would go, but everyone knew individually they had all done the best job possible.
“Everyone’s efforts have been rewarded with a great day.”
“I am very pleased for everyone involved in the project from the race team, Nissan, Michelin, our suppliers and partners. We’ve been working on an extreme tight time frame to bring their dream to fruition and having such a strong day today puts a real spring in everyone’s step.
“There is still a lot of work to do for the race. However, our plan is to just work hard on demonstrating the concept. We’re not going to charge over kerbs, chasing fast times or taking risks – this is all about completing 24 hours of Le Mans using significantly less resources that anybody else.
“I’m very proud of everyone’s efforts and really looking forward to the race.”