Mission accomplished! The Nissan DeltaWing had one goal entering its North American debut at Petit Le Mans – score a race finish.
The team not only completed the 1000 mile journey at Road Atlanta today, but American Gunnar Jeannette and Spaniard Lucas Ordoñez demonstrated stunning pace throughout the race to finish fifth in the endurance classic.
Running unclassified as an invitational entry for the final round of the American Le Mans Series, the Nissan DeltaWing team were forced to start off the back of the grid and subsequently lost additional track position by missing out on a number safety car “wave arounds” throughout the race.
The unique 1.6 liter Nissan DIG-T turbochaged-powered machine eventually crossed the line three laps down from the P2 class winning car.
Jeannette started the race for the Nissan DeltaWing squad and immediately began a charge through the pack – passing eight cars on the opening lap.
By the time he handed over to Ordoñez, the No.0 car had moved up to eigth position out of the 42 car field. The Spaniard took over and completed a triple stint – handing back to Jeannette from third place overall.
The Michelin tire-equipped Nissan DeltaWing continued to show incredible endurance when Jeannette returned to the wheel – this time completing a quadruple stint without changing tires.
Ordoñez took over for the final 110 laps – bringing the car across the line in sixth place. The team gained a further position after the checkered flag when a P2 car was excluded due to a driver exceeding the maximum drive time permitted.
Today’s performance was made even more remarkably considering the team had to completely rebuild the car on Wednesday after Jeannette was forced into a dramatic roll-over in testing when he was struck by a GTC-class Porsche. Click the header graphic above to view a time lapse of the rebuild.
Featuring half the weight, half the horsepower and half the aerodynamic drag of a typical Le Mans sportscar, the Nissan DeltaWing captured the imagination of fans and media alike at its race debut at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Sadly, the car was forced out after six hours due to contact with another prototype. This established a target for the Nissan DeltaWing team for Petit Le Mans.
Just getting to the race finish was that target – one that was achieved with flying colors.
“It was a great job by all the team and everyone has worked so hard all week.
“There has been so much work put into developing this car and then after the crash this week made for even more work.
“We’ve now crossed the finish line in a 10 hour race. Gunnar did an amazing job during his stints and I was able to be consistent and show good pace.
“The car was fantastic to drive, Michelin did a great job with the tires and we’ve been working really hard on developing the entire package.
“We’ve shown everyone in motorsport that the car is really strong and fast. We’re here with a new concept of half the weight, half the power and half the aerodynamic drag – but with pace that is very comparable to the P2 cars.
“I’m really proud to cross the line at the finish and I’m now ready to celebrate with the guys.”
BEN BOWLBY – NISSAN DELTAWING
“It is amazing what has happed in 12 months. This was our goal to finish our first endurnace race.
“This is the first one we’ve finished and it is only our second race.
“The guys did an incredible job. Gunnar and Lucas were awsome and they drove drove its guts out.
“In fact, if you look at the lack of wave arounds we had we really had a very competitive race.
“It was the next step for the Nissan DeltaWing and it is still surprising us all. To have reliability like that was really quite incredible – it didn’t skip a beat.”
DARREN COX – NISSAN
“The reaction from the fans, the drivers, the crew – everybody is cheering and whooping.
“It has been a short time but a long journey to see the Nissan DeltaWing achieve this result.
“We’ve had big challenges – the crash at Le Mans and the crash here – but everyone has always kept the faith and they’ve been rewarded by a great result.
“The drivers did an amazing job. There is not a mark on the car – they tip-toed through traffic but still recorded great lap times.
“We finished the race and that is what we set out to do. Mission accomplished.”