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Holy smokes Batman! Say hello to the Nissan DeltaWing, the most radical racing car since... well since racing cars were invented.
The DeltaWing - a collaboration between Nissan, British designer Ben Bowlby, American motorsport entrepreneur Don Panoz, the All-American Racers organisation of former US Formula 1 driver Dan Gurney, Highcroft Racing and Michelin Tyres North America - will compete at the Le Mans 24 hours that takes place between June 16-17 this year.
Unfortunately, due to its experimental status, the DeltaWing will not be eligible to battle for silverware but is expected to have the pace required to challenge the LMP1 and LMP2 machines at Le Mans. Racing from 'Garage 56' (the spot in the pit lane reserved specifically for experimental vehicles) the DeltaWing will mount its challenge powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that is closely related to the unit used in the range topping Nissan Juke.
Badged as DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline - Turbocharged), the race prepared engine is expected to produce 300hp - less than half of what a conventional Le Mans engine would produce. However, due to the DeltaWing's low weight and aerodynamic drag the power is said to be sufficient enough for the Batmobile look-alike to keep up with the likes of the Audi R18 and Toyota TS030 hybrid racers.
"As motor racing rulebooks have become tighter over time, racing cars look more and more similar and the technology used has had less and less relevance to road car development. Nissan DeltaWing aims to change that and we were an obvious choice to become part of the project," said Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
The first two Nissan DeltaWing drivers to be confirmed are, rather surprisingly not Batman and Robin, but British sports car racer Marino Franchitti and Nissan's reining FIA GT1 World Champion Michael Krumm. The car will make its first public demo laps at Sebring, Florida on March 15.