Nissan’s radical, needle-nose DeltaWing prototype GT car has begun testing in Europe to give the team a handle on the race conditions expected at the car’s official debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16/17.
Although initial testing was conducted in the U.S., none of it included situations on rain soaked circuits, apart from a simulated test at Sebring where a water truck was brought in.
Marino Franchitti and Michael Krumm, who will drive the car at Le Mans, got their first chance at handling the DeltaWing in real wet weather conditions earlier this week, during a stint on the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk, UK.
“It was a very good test for the car and the tires,” said Franchitti. “The engine and gearbox were really strong – it was a proper testing day when we were really able to get down to business doing damper work, brake work — all in all, it was a very positive test and we’re now very much looking forward to the next run.”
“The guys have done a great job with the car since the Sebring tests. Even though the conditions were quite damp today and we really didn’t get a proper run in the dry, I am really pleased with how the car felt,” Krumm added.
Although it was good to really get a chance to try the DeltaWing in the wet, the team and Darren Cox, general manager for Nissan Europe are aware there’s still work to be done.
“The whole Nissan DeltaWing team is still on a massive learning curve,” Cox said. “Testing in the States was a stable, predictable way of doing the initial groundwork but this exciting car is going to be racing in the French countryside. Today, the whole team got a taste of the conditions they may well face on June 16/17, so [while] it may not have been much fun in the Norfolk rain, but it’s about the best thing that could have happened for a project and a car that will face an enormous challenge just to make the end of the race.”
The DeltaWing project brings together some of the biggest names in U.S. motorsport circles, including famed race car builder and team owner Don Panoz, Dan Gurney’s legendary All-American Racers and Highcroft Racing. Further tests have already been scheduled, including a two-day track evaluation next week.
Considering the DeltaWing’s radical nature, the team appears to be doing everything it can to make a lasting impression at this years Le Mans, for all the right reasons.