DeltaWing scores 5th place at Road Atlanta

So, Top Gear’s favourite pointy underdog proved it’s more than just a freak-racer this weekend. The Nissan Deltawing came fifth in a field of regular LMP1 and LMP2 cars at the ‘Petit Le Mans’, 1000-mile race at Road Atlanta, the last race of the American Le Mans series.

Remarkably, the team thought the car could have done even better still had it not got snagged on the wrong side of the safety car more than once. And all this after a practice accident that set YouTube on fire last week. Good stuff.

The Deltawing, for those who’ve spent the summer in a Crofter’s hut, is the one-off renegade refugee from Indycar racing that the Le Mans authorities were smart enough to grant an entry, and that Nissan subsequently threw its name, budget and a tiny four-cylinder turbo engine behind. Half the horsepower of the rest of the field, yes. But also half the weight, and half the drag. And it flew at the real Le Mans too, before one of the mighty Toyota hybrids knocked it off the track to mass opprobrium.

So the Highcroft racing team had only one aim this weekend, and that was to finish. Even that looked unlikely when driver Gunnar Jeanette got nerfed by an inevitable 911 in practice and launched into a wild roll, which had large chunks of Twitter wondering whether a car with its front wheels in the normal place might not have flown so easily.

Still, American driver Jeanette clearly wasn’t scared. Starting at the back of the grid, he’d passed eight cars by the time the first lap was over and had the car eighth overall (out of 42) by the first driver change. Spaniard Lucas Ordõnez then raced as high as third as the Deltawing’s ability to make its tyres, especially those biddy little fronts, go further than the ‘regular’ cars’. Less time in the pits. More time on track.

The AMLS organisers have agreed the Deltawing’s one-off appearance will become a regular thing next year. There is however, still no word on a return to Le Mans, the unclassifiable ‘Garage 56’ slot having already been allocated to the hydrogen-powered GreenGT.

Meanwhile Don Panoz (remember him, the man who brought front-engined race cars back to Le Mans?) says the concept may have a future in single-seater racing too. It was originally conceived as an Indycar after all. We can’t wait to see more of our pointy friend, wherever it’s racing…

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Damn Brilliant! there’s nothing better than an underdog striving in the face of adversity. Shame on Porsche for doing the automotive equivalent of pushing over the ginger kid but what a comeback, Nissan Deltawing.. Bravo!

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I watched the entire race online (I was ill, so had nothing better to do) and agree that due to the high number of safety car periods in which the LMP class cars got ‘wave arounds’ but the Wing didnt, hampered the progress. Top 3 is possible I reckon, especially if they turn the wick up on the motor (I have heard it can reliably handle another 100 bhp…)

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Another 100 bhp though would surely affect the fuel consumption, so Nissan would have to find a trade off between added power and lower economy..

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This car is overrated. It’s shape lends itself to scary rollovers from simple contact, like we saw in practice earlier. In an age where safety is perhaps the most important part of race car design, this car flaunts safety for novelty. It should never have been allowed to run. A car with straight sides wouldn’t have the tendancy to turn in and roll in side by side contact.

Also, I’m vehemently against everything “green” in relation to motorsports. It’s supposed to be fast, not “green.” Technologies that increase effeciancy aren’t bad, like the KERS systems that are starting to come out, but smaller engines and the like are NOT the answer.

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@notthest1g, the whole point of this article is that the car is just as fast or faster when compared to a normal LMP car. Inefficiency for the sake of inefficiency when there’s no speed improvement is ridiculous.

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Not to be pedantic, but the Deltawing didn’t come fifth. It’s unclassified because it doesn’t run to any technical regulations and so while it may have come fifth on the road, it doesn’t appear in the official results.
The reason it came fifth was because three of the four LMP1s had catastrophic problems. The Pickett Honda suffered crash damage and further complications resulting from the crash; the number 16 Dyson Lola had electronics problems, most likely due to their running of a Flybrid for only the second time; and Dyson’s other car, number 20, blew its turbo. Without these problems for the LMP1s, the Deltawing would have come eighth (still an admirable effort). There were also various problems for the LMP2s.
By the way, the race was won by a British car (Lola B12/60), run by a British team (Rebellion) – albeit with Swiss backing. Very surprising that you didn’t mention it.

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I saw the race in person over the weekend. The DeltaWing really is a sight to behold among all the other classes. It made the race interesting for me. Reading about it and seeing it in person are on two different levels.

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