Japanese automaker Nissan has become a founding partner in a major motorsport project to develop an experimental racecar for the legendary Le mans 24 Hours.
A highly-advanced and hugely-efficient Nissan engine will power the remarkable DeltaWing car as it races at Le Mans in June.
While Nissan DeltaWing will not be classified in the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours, the company is looking to showcase the pioneering technology that will show one potential direction for the future of motorsport and will feed into the research and development of future technologies, that filter down to Nissan's road car product range.
A race-prepared 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, featuring direct petrol injection and a turbocharger, will power Nissan DeltaWing, which is half the weight and has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer.
The engine, badged DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline - Turbocharged), is expected to produce around 300hp, sufficient to give Nissan DeltaWing lap times between LMP1 and LMP2 machines at Le Mans, despite having only half the power of those conventional prototypes.
"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.
"But this is just the start of our involvement. Nissan DeltaWing embodies a vast number of highly-innovative ideas that we can learn from. At the same time, our engineering resources and commitment to fuel efficiency leadership via our PureDrive strategy will help develop DeltaWing into a testbed of innovation for Nissan."
"This announcement gives Nissan the opportunity to become part of a ground-breaking motorsport project and one which could shape the future of the sport," he added.
Nissan DeltaWing concept originator and designer, Briton Ben Bowlby, said: "Nissan has provided us with our first choice engine. It's a spectacular piece. We've got the engine of our dreams: it's the right weight, has the right power and it's phenomenally efficient."
Nissan DeltaWing is unlike any other racing car currently on track, a statement said. The driver sits well back in the car, almost over the rear axle and looks ahead down a long, narrow fuselage to narrow twin front tyres, specially created for the car by tyre partner Michelin.
With a rear-mounted engine, the car has a strong rearward weight bias, which makes it highly manoeuvrable, while its light weight and slippery shape make it far more efficient.
Dan Gurney's legendary All American Racers organization has built the DeltaWing.
Paul Willcox, senior vice president, Nissan in Europe, said: "Nissan is a very innovative, forward-thinking company prepared to take a risk or two. And exactly the same applies to Nissan DeltaWing. Our involvement in the project shows the boldness of Nissan from an engineering and innovation mindset."
The first two Nissan DeltaWing drivers to be confirmed are British sportscar racer Marino Franchitti and Nissan's reigning FIA GT1 World Champion Michael Krumm.