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Nissan DeltaWing channels the Batmobile (photos)

In a few months, a new competitor at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in France could mix up the mindset of the high-end racing community.

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headshots_Christopher_MacManus_140x100.jpg

Christopher MacManus

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A Le Mans legend?

If Batman owned a race car, it might well be the Nissan DeltaWing. The exotic whip, built by All American Racers, contains a turbocharged Nissan 1.6-liter engine that pushes out 300 horsepower. Most notably, the ride will make a big splash at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race on June 15-17 in France, facing stiff competition from vehicles with double the horsepower. However, the DeltaWing contains "half the weight and has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer," according to Nissan.
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Batman's whip

This epic profile shot will surely inspire thoughts of the Batmobile in our readers. Originally clad in a red paint job, the DeltaWing underwent a transformation to black--from head to toe--when Nissan got involved in the project.
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Heads up

The DeltaWing group tapped Michelin to create the narrow front tires used in the highly advanced racer. This sleek visage appears quite menacing when viewed head-on. An array of eight projector lights, four on the front and two on each side, illuminate the track for the DeltaWing's driver during the nighttime portion of the Le Mans race.
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Wide load

The backside of the DeltaWing is much wider than the front, with the rear axle as far back as can be. "With a rear-mounted engine, the car has a strong rearward weight bias, which makes it highly maneuverable," according to a Nissan press release.
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Attention to detail

While not an official contender in the historical Le Mans endurance race, the DeltaWing will still participate, under the number "0," with the special Garage 56 group, reserved for experimental cars. Nissan expects "DeltaWing lap times between LMP1 and LMP2 machines," which make up the top two classes of vehicles in the race. This extraordinary claim, if proved true, may change many things in the racing world, as the DeltaWing contains half the power of the vehicles conventionally used in the epic Le Mans event.
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Comin' around the corner

While driving the DeltaWing, the driver sits in the back of the car, near the rear axle, and watches the action down a long narrow fuselage reminiscent of land-speed-record vehicles.
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Racing past the rules

"The first two Nissan DeltaWing drivers to be confirmed [for the 2012 Le Mans race] are British Sportscar racer Marino Franchitti and Nissan's reigning FIA GT1 World Champion, Michael Krumm," noted a Nissan press release.
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A 'phenomenally efficient' engine

Nissan DeltaWing concept originator and designer 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."
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Black on black

The DeltaWing rips things up on the dyno in this promotional image from Nissan, easily sailing past 100 mph in mere moments.
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Smooth operator

"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 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," said Andy Palmer, executive vice president, Nissan Motor.
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The players

From left: Don Panoz, managing partner of the project; Dayton Duncan, Highcroft Racing; Dan Gurney from All American Racers; Eric Comas, renowned Formula 1 ace and test driver; Ben Bowlby, concept designer; Marino Franchitti, British sportscar racer; Darren Cox, Nissan Europe; Michael Krumm, reigning FIA GT1 World Champion.

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