2016 DeltaWing GT Concept
Initially designed and developed by a team consisting of Don Panoz, Ben Bowlby, Dan Gurney’s All American Racers, and powered by a Nissan NISMO engine, the DeltaWing is arguably the most revolutionary design of modern-day racing. Three years have passed since the initial model made its track debut at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans, and DeltaWing Technology Group, now without backing from Ben Bowlby and Nissan, announced that a new version of the race car is in the works. Dubbed DeltaWing GT, the concept, which follows in the footsteps of the initial design, will be unveiled by the end of 2015. The big news here is that this new DeltaWing project is described as "a major step toward a street-legal two-seat DeltaWing sports car."
That’s right, if things go as planned, we may be able to drive a version of the unconventional DeltaWing on public roads in a few years.
"This is an important point in the DeltaWing project’s next phase," said Don Panoz, DeltaWing Technology Group chairman and CEO. "We’ve been very busy leading up to this launch announcement, and we’ll remain quite busy coordinating the race car project’s many details."
The company’s goal is to build two-seat and four-seat performance cars based on the DeltaWing design, that would return "previously unimagined fuel economy and efficiency." DeltaWing has recruited former Panoz, Williams F1, and Audi Sport Japan engineer Brian Willis to lead the program.
Continue reading to learn more about the DeltaWing GT Race Car Concept.
2016 DeltaWing GT Concept
0-60 time:4.5 sec. (Est.)
Top Speed:186 mph (Est.)
DeltaWing didn’t provide many details of the concept’s design, but judging by the CAD renderings that came with the press release it’s quite obvious the GT will mimic the race car’s styling, including the trademark narrow front track. The renderings also suggest the vehicle will be a coupe, a design DeltaWing developed in 2013 under Le Mans Prototype P1 regulations.
However, the GT will be a lot shorter than the race car and feature a more conventional front end, without the pointy noise and likely with different headlamps. Also, the rear wheels, which apparently will be mounted on a shorter axle, will be completely enclosed in the bodywork.
The renderings also reveal there will be a fixed rear wing and a different engine hood design, devoid of the LMP1-inspired fin and with a conventional rear glass. I expect the rear fascia to sports a production-friendly appearance that will include traditional taillights and a less-aggressive diffuser.
All told, the GT Concept and the production car that will follow will look more like a car and less like an aircraft. Whether that’s good or bad is up to you to decide.
Inside, the GT Concept will receive an FIA-spec roll cage, bolstered racing seats, a sports steering wheel, and a tiny display as an instrument cluster. That’s about as much info as I can get from the CAD renderings, but it’s safe to assume the concept car will feature a full-fledged motorsport cockpit. Naturally, DeltaWing will come up with a friendlier layout for the road car, but there’s a reason why the concept seems ready to hit the track.
Specifically, besides aiming to deliver a highly efficient and aerodynamic road car, there’s a big possibility DeltaWing wants its new project to become eligible for GTE racing, where low-volume manufacturers are allowed to compete once 25 road cars have been built. Yup, you guessed it! The road cars following the concept would be built as an homologation run for the racer that’s also based on the concept.
As for the four-seat vehicle DeltaWing also announced, it will likely sport a longer wheelbase in order to accommodate two extra seats in front of the mid-mounted engine. Unfortunately, there’s no CAD rendering for that configuration.
There’s been no word as to what engine will power the concept car, but I expect DeltaWing to use a four-banger, just like it did in its previous race cars. The current racers are motivated by a 1.9-liter, turbo-four produced by Elan Motorsport Technologies and based on a Mazda design. The unit cranks out 345 horsepower, which is probably way more than what the future road car will get.
Much like the race car it is based on, the GT Concept will focus on lightness and efficient aerodynamics, which would improve fuel consumption and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions dramatically. Likewise, the 30 percent/70 percent front-to-rear weight distribution of the race car, which allows DeltaWing to use much smaller steering, braking, suspension, and other components up front to reduce weight, could find its way in the concept car as well.
Granted, the 458 Italia GT2 has nothing in common with the GT Concept on the outside, but, if my suspicion that DeltaWing wants a GTE (GTLM in the U.S.) class racer proves to be correct, than this Ferrari will become one of its main competitors at the track. Based on the 458 Italia the GT2 employs aerodynamic enhancements specific to the class and takes on the track with the same 4.5-liter V-8 engine under the hood. The mid-mounted mill cranks out out nearly 500 horsepower.
So far, the Italia GT2 won the 2012 and 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2012 12 Hours of Sebring in the GTE Pro class, as well as two editions of the Petit Le Mans. The Italian racer also took several manufacturer and team titles in its class, including the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the Le Mans Series, the International GT Open, the FIA World Endurance Championship, and the European Le Mans Series.
Although the 458 Italia it is based on will soon be replaced by the 488 GTB, it is likely the GT2 car will continue to be used by privateers for another couple of years. Read our full review here.
Launched at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, the Corvette C7.R is one of the newest contenders in the GTE class. Developed alongside the road-going Corvette Z06 to replace the Le Mans-winning C6.R, the C7.R borrows most of its design cues from the C7-generation cars and features an updated, 5.5-liter V-8 engine under the hood.
The race car has already raced a full season in the United SportsCar Championship, with the two cars fielded by Corvette Racing scoring four wins and one additional podium in the GTLM class. Corvette Racing finished the season in second place in the teams championship and in third position in the manufacturers standings. Read our full review here.
The BladeGlider Concept is the only design that’s similar to what DeltaWing is trying to achieve with the GT Concept. Loosely based on the ZEOD RC hybrid race car, which in turn is based on the original DeltaWing, the BladeGlider brings the awkward narrow front track design to the road.
The concept used lightweight materials, including carbon-reinforced plastics, a 30-70 front-to-rear weight distribution (just like the DeltaWing), and a cockpit built around a center-mounted driver seat. Conceived as an electric car, the concept car was initially scheduled to go into production in two to three years. Unfortunately, the project was abandoned with Andy Palmer’s departure from Nissan to Aston Martin in 2014. Read our full review here.
It’s obviously way too early for a conclusion here, but the GT Concept is already shaping up as a game changer. A production, road-legal car based on this study could change the way we view road vehicles (which Nissan failed to achieve with the BladeGlider), while a GTE racer, if successful, may revolutionize motorsport. But it all depends on whether the GT become more than just a concept.