Nissan DeltaWing debuts at Le Mans
When the DeltaWing was unveiled with its Nissan badge back in March this year, it sent ripples down the automotive and racing world's spine. Not only did it look oh so cool in its own special way - very Batmobile-esque, if you will - but it's also crammed in the power. Lots of power. In fact this beast is capable of 320km/h.
The car was designed specifically with this year's Le Mans 24 hour race under the "Garage 56" initiative - an opening for non-LMP1/2 cars as a showcase for new automotive technology - a further cause for equal spouts of excitement.
Pocket-lint was on hand at the DeltaWing's Le Mans debut in France this weekend and chatted to Michael Mallock of RML Motorsport - the company "behind the scenes" when it comes to Nissan's racing - about the new car.
Mallock is beaming that the car's first five laps have gone unhinged, but is quick to tell us that they're "trying to break it."
"It's how you learn; we've got a rigorous programme. Usually a car like this would be tested for at least 12 months but, as you know, we've only had three. We've done a year's work in three months."
This apparently impossible feat is no small:. "We've got a big team," Mallock says "There are 30-35 guys working on the car this weekend and lots of engineering support."
And when asked how he would describe the car, he doesn't hesitate for a second, with a broad smile on his face: "Well, it's a roaring science experiment, isn't it?"
The bespoke beauty has been a "global effort", first driven by Alex Gurney in the States - the man behind All American Racers (AAR) that built the car - before making its way over to Europe back in April. At Le Mans there are three drivers on the course: Michael Krumm of Germany, Marino Franchitti of Scotland (yup, he's no Italian, trust us), and Satoshi Motoyama of Japan, all of whom qualified effortlessly for the 24-hour race later this month.
The DeltaWing is a car that looks to push boundaries, though there are restrictions it has to adhere to in order to qualify for Le Mans submission. Despite having "half" the fuel consumption of a normal LMP2 car, the fuel tank has also been halved to 40-litres to make for a fair race on June 16. The weight ratio is also 75 per cent to the rear, which makes for an unusual dynamic.
"It's about pushing boundaries, seeing what can be achieved," Mallock adds. "There's a bespoke and really intricate gearbox that's also half the weight. It's unlike anything we've worked on before."
And what's the cost of all this tech? "You can't put a price on it. The amount of money is obviously huge, but it's a one-off investment."
Before he pops back into the pits to see his "baby" go out with the next driver, we jovially ask whether we'll see the car in the next Batman movie instalment. He laughs: "They've finished filming haven't they?" What a good sport.
Will the Nissan DeltaWing trounce the circuit at Le Mans 2012? And what do you think of this unusual racer?