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DeltaWing Headed To Petit

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Sunday, October 14 2012

The DeltaWing car has a future. (Photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

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Nissan’s DeltaWing will compete in next weekend’s Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, first race in North America for the revolutionary prototype. And the good news is that Saturday’s appearance at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., will not be the car’s last in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.

ALMS officials and sanctioning body IMSA announced Friday that the DeltaWing would compete as a fully classified car during the 2013 ALMS season. As it did at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, Nissan DeltaWing is set to run unclassified at Road Atlanta as a factory-backed entry. The unique car features half the weight, half the horsepower and half the aerodynamic drag but all of the performance of a typical Le Mans prototype.

“Nissan DeltaWing attracted enormous fan and media interest throughout the world as a result of it racing at Le Mans _ and fan interest in seeing the DeltaWing race at Petit Le Mans is extremely strong,” said Scott Atherton, American Le Mans Series president/CEO. “There is no question DeltaWing is selling tickets as a result of it making its North American competition debut at Road Atlanta.”

IMSA will collect and analyze race data at Petit Le Mans to create the rules for DeltaWing to compete as a championship-contending customer car in the ALMS. That is expected to come less than a year from the car’s worldwide debut in June at Le Mans.

The 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans on Oct. 20 will provide a stark contrast for designer Ben Bowlby and the DeltaWing team, including drivers Gunnar Jeannette and Lucas Ordonez. The 2.54-mile Road Atlanta layout is dramatically shorter, tighter and features more elevation changes than the 8.5-mile Le Mans circuit.

“Seeing the car compete at Petit Le Mans will provide us with an important comparison to the current prototype competition,” said Scot Elkins, ALMS and IMSA chief operating officer. “The car has some significant advantages (lower weight) and major disadvantages (less horsepower). The data gathered from Petit Le Mans will be very important for us to finalize the rules package and apply any performance balancing which may be required.”

What’s certain is that those battles will continue beyond 2012. Don Panoz, American Le Mans Series founder and DeltaWing Racing Cars managing partner, is excited about the possibility of seeing more of the slender-nosed machines do battle into the future.

“We’ve certainly had a lot of inquires from teams interested in the car, but the big unknown for people has been whether or not the car could compete for a championship (in 2013),” Panoz said. “We are still learning a great deal about the car, and the recent tests at Road Atlanta have proven to be very beneficial for the program. Those lessons will be used for the updated 2013 car with a number of changes that will improve reliability and further enhance safety.

“The fans want to see it, the teams are very interested _ I think the car is going to provide sports car racing with major boost for the future.”

Saturday’s race is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., EDT. ABC’s delayed broadcast will begin at 1 p.m., EDT, on Sunday, Oct. 21. Full, live coverage starts at 11:15 a.m. EDT, on ESPN3 with qualifying beginning at 1:50 p.m., EDT, on Friday, Oct. 19. The series’ website offers additional content including live in-car cameras, and timing and scoring for users around the world. Viewers outside the U.S. can watch Petit Le Mans and all ALMS races live on ALMS.com.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Sunday, October 14 2012
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