Mazda-Powered DeltaWing Gets 12 Minutes Instead of 12 Hours at Sebring

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

What happens when you put a jet on a race track?

Apparently, not very much. At least, “not very much” is what we have to say about the revised now Mazda-powered DeltaWing that debuted at the American Le Mans Series’ 12 Hours of Sebring this past weekend.

The DeltaWing coupe concept originally debuted at the 2010 Chicago Motor Show. It was showcased as a possible option for the new IndyCar chassis. Several specs made the car distinct other than its stealth jet-esque design. First, it’s about half the weight of a normal Le Mans racecar. Second, it’s much more aerodynamic with a significantly lower drag than its heavier brethren. Third, it can hit 235 mph with a seemingly feeble 1.6L four-cylinder engine offering only 300hp.

Andy Palmer, vice president of the Nissan, had this to say about the DeltaWing: “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. DeltaWing aims to change that.”

Back in 2010, we weren’t sure when we’d get to actually see the DeltaWing race. As it turns out, it finally hit the track during late 2012, taking 5th at the Petit Le Mans last October. However, we were promised to see even more performances during 2013.

Unfortunately, those 2013 plans have proven liquid at best.

In early February we’d heard that every single sponsor was out of the deal, including Michelin and Nissan. This past weekend the DeltaWing took to the track in the 12-hour Le Mans race, complete with a new Mazda engine and Bridgestone tires.

To say we were excited about seeing the DeltaWing perform would be an understatement. In addition to a rather surprising performance at the Petit Le Mans last year, the car had been doing incredibly well in tests over the past two weeks.

Unfortunately, the motorsport powers that be were a little more fickle. After all the excitement, all the hard work, all the preparation, the DeltaWing puttered out after just 12 minutes of Le Mans instead of 12 hours. And the problem wasn’t even the engine or the oil lines or anything like that — it was the electronics.

Sigh.

Fortunately, the DeltaWing is confirmed for at least two more races this year. The next race will be in May at Laguna Seca, and another will potentially be in August, although details are still scarce. Either way, stay tuned to see how this jet-inspired racecar will hold up in future endurance races. We most assuredly will be!

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