I normally don’t like to post these Shakedown videos of the guys just sitting and chatting, but this one has a lot of interesting news that’s relevant to what we’re about here at Flux Auto. This episode revolves around the 2012 Le Mans 24 hour race that just finished up. Leo talks about how the Toyota TS030 and Audi E-Tron Quattro did as well as the future of the Nissan DeltaWing which was knocked out of the race by a driver who claimed he couldn’t see it in his mirrors. There’s also news about engine restrictions, energy consumption and hybrid drive trains for the race next year. The last part is an interesting bit of news regarding Mazda’s announcement that they were producing Skyactiv diesel engines for P2 cars next year as well. I’m glad to see that the movement to develop fuel efficient performance cars in racing is so strong. Racing breeds strong innovation.
The Nissan DeltaWing competed in this year’s 24 hours of Le Mans as the single experimental class showcase car. It took to the track after three and a half years of independent development. The DeltaWing had a universal unstoppable underdog appeal that quickly made it a fan favorite. Unfortunately it was taken out of the race by Kazuki Nakajimi in one of the Toyota TS030’s while he was challenging for the race lead. Nissan factory driver, Satoshi Mototayama, was at the helm when the DeltaWing was forced into a concrete wall. Le Mans rules allows the driver to get out of the car as long as he stays within a short distance of it. Motoyama tried for two hours to get the car back on track before giving up in tears with the fans all applauding his efforts. The damage to the drive train was too severe for him to get the car running again and back to the garage. That ends the DeltaWing’s story at Le Mans, but hopefully we’ll hear from it again.
Here is Motoyama’s interview with the press after the crash:
Nissan Europe released this video to give a behind the scenes look at the development of the Nissan DeltaWing. The premise of the car is that it has half the weight and aerodynamic drag of a traditional race car and thus requires half the power and fuel consumption. The car’s center of gravity is very near the rear axle which is why the front tires are so skinny. The car was originally submitted for consideration to be the new chassis for Indy car racing but was passed over for something more traditional. New sponsors picked up the design to run as an exhibition vehicle in this year’s 24 hours of Le Mans. Nissan decided to back a large portion of the project by providing a 1.6 liter turbocharged I4 engine related to the one found in the Nissan Juke. After 3.5 years of development, the team and the car arrived at Le Mans and took their first shakedown laps.
The “green” race cars participating in this year’s Le Mans got together for a good old fashioned photo-op. Moving from left to right we start with the Nissan Deltawing. It’s half the weight and aerodynamic drag of a normal race car so it only needs half the power and fuel. The blue and white car is the Toyota TS030 which ended up not competing in Le Mans due to a heavy crash in testing. It’s powered by a gasoline V8 on the rear axle and electric motors on the front. The silver and red car behind the Toyota is the Audi E-tron Quattro. It’s rear axle is powered by a diesel V8 with electric motors powering the front axle. The interesting aspect of the Audi is that it uses the electromagnetic flywheel energy storage system that’s been campaigned on the Porsche 911 GT3 RS Hybrid. The black and orange car on the end is the hydrogen powered GreenGT H2.
Road & Track got an exclusive look at the new Nissan DeltaWing race car doing some full power testing. It’s currently being powered by a turbocharged and direct injected 1.6 liter inline 4 cylinder engine. Nissan makes the engine and it’s related to the optional turbocharged engine for the Juke. The goal behind the car was to make be lighter and more aerodynamically efficient than a traditional car in order to reduce fuel consumption. That’s why the nose and front tires are so narrow. The DeltaWing is able to turn because its center of gravity is almost on the back axle. That gives the front wheels a lot more leverage on the weight of the car. The design was in the running to become the new chassis for Indy but was passed over for a more traditional design. Now Nissan is picking up the project to race in the 24 hours of Le Mans.
Let me give you full disclosure here. I’m all for new technology and efficiency in motorsports more than most, but I absolutely hate this car. It’s my opinion that the DeltaWing is too far in the realm of idealistic engineering theory and not a practical design. It makes some sense if you analyze the forces on the tires and the center of gravity while the car is static, but I think the car will suffer in wheel to wheel racing when the drivers are trying to pass using aggressive line changing with the weight of the car shifted forward from heavy braking. A lot of passing maneuvers depend on how the car behaves in situations like that and I don’t see the DeltaWing being particularly good for them. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.