A revolution gets underway


The Audi team dominated last weekend’s 60th Sebring 12 Hours with Alan McNish/Tom Kristensen/Rinaldo Capello scoring the company’s 10th win at Sebring.

This year Sebring opened the new World Endurance Championship but without Peugeot there was no competition for Audi. 64 cars started the race, split about 50/50 between WEC and ALMS teams, but for many people the big buzz of the weekend swirled around the Delta Wing which made its public debut last Thursday and Saturday with a few demonstration runs prior to the start of the 12 Hour classic.

The Delta Wing starts serious testing this week, running at Sebring Monday through Wednesday and again on Friday. Powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre Nissan four-cylinder engine making 300bhp, the Delta Wing weighs 475kg without fuel or driver and designer Ben Bowlby is confident the car will return lap times equal to the fastest conventional LMP cars.

Marino Franchitti and Michael Krum have been confirmed as the Nissan Delta Wing’s drivers. Franchitti drove the car at its first test at Buttonwillow Raceway in California and demonstrated the Delta Wing at Sebring last week. When we talked on Sunday Marino was looking forward to the four days of testing at Sebring this week.

“The car worked very well straight off the bat, which is encouraging at any time, but especially with a new concept,” Marino said. “You know very quickly whether a car feels good or not and the Delta Wing felt like a good car right away. There’s a long way to go in the development process but it was a very encouraging start.

“Buttonwillow is very bumpy and it worked there very well and Sebring is very bumpy so if we can get it working here this week it will make it easier when we get to the mostly smooth Tarmac of Europe. With Nissan coming on board as a partner their support will take it to another level.”

Franchitti is excited about the wave of interest in the Delta Wing and says he hopes the car can achieve its goal of much-improved efficiency. “It’s an amazing programme,” Marino commented. “It’s creating a huge amount of interest and taking the awareness of racing to another level. To continue that interest we have to perform and I’m pretty confident that we can do that. So it’s very exciting and we’re going to be very, very busy over the next three months from here to Le Mans. We’re going to be flat out all the way.

“Everyone has reacted to this concept but kids especially just love the way it looks and that’s what we need to engage a whole new generation of sports car or racing fans. If we do our job correctly we’ll be able to do the same job as a modern LMP car but using half the fuel and I think that’s a game-changer.”

We await this week’s Delta Wing Sebring test results with eager interest.

You may also like