The Nissan DeltaWing took it first laps at Circuit de la Sarthe yesterday during practice sessions for the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans that's fast approaching. The world's oldest endurance race takes place in less than two weeks. While the DeltaWing underwent its first public testing session back in March at Sebring, this is the first time its drivers – Michael Krumm, Satoshi Motoyama and Marino Franchitti – have driven it at Le Mans.
The team was able to complete 54 practice laps, almost all of which were on the same set of tires. A brief instance of weather allowed for a single lap to be run on rain tires. The DeltaWing's quickest practice lap of 3 minutes, 47.980 seconds came at the hands of Motoyama. Based on the results of last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, that lap time would make the odd-looking DeltaWing competitive with the LMP2 class of cars, and notably quicker than either class of GT cars.
The DeltaWing will compete at Le Mans in the experimental "Garage 56" class meant to showcase innovative technology, and with half the weight, half the horsepower and half the aerodynamic drag of a typical Le Mans Prototype car, should consume tires and fuel at a much lower rate than the rest of the field. Backed by both Nissan and Michelin, the DeltaWing is powered by a 300-horsepower 1.6-liter Nissan DIG-T turbo engine and rides on special tires developed by Michelin that are only four inches wide in the front.