Highcroft Racing's Nissan DeltaWing group came away from this past weekend's Le Mans test day pleased with progress during its "official" debut. The radical racecar, which was invited to compete in this year's 24 Hours under the Automobile Club de l'Ouest's “Garage 56” classification that showcases new and innovative technology, completed 54 laps with drivers Michael Krumm, Satoshi Motoyama and Marino Franchitti at the wheel.
The team reported 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 3m47.980s. DeltaWing designer Ben Bowlby believes the team is comfortably within reach of its target pace of 3m45s, as requested by race officials.
“I was certainly very happy with the results today," said Bowlby. "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.”
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. Since Franchitti handled most of the pre-event testing and development, the Scot ran just 11 laps on Sunday as the team took the opportunity to get his Japanese and German teammates more accustomed with the car ahead of the June 16-17 race.
“We tested out different setups, collected data, worked on fuel consumption and everything went very well with all of that," related Krumm. "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 it 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.”
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 300hp 1.6-liter Nissan DIG-T turbocharged engine, the car also features specially developed Michelin tires which are four inches wide at the front.