When we last saw the revolutionary and polarizing DeltaWing race car, it was destined for a big-time debut at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans as an exhibition racer, and would be powered by some sort of turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Today, we found out where the DeltaWing will get its engine: the wacky Nissan Juke.
When the DeltaWing competes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe this June, it’ll cap at least three years of preparation, and mark another milestone in a long and bumpy road for the futuristic racecar.
The DeltaWing was originally conceived as a next-generation vehicle for the IndyCar Series. A combination of viability and cost is reportedly to blame for why it lost that competition in mid-2010, but just as the car looked all but sunk, it was granted reprieve by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the governing body of the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. The organization granted the DeltaWing a race number–number 0–and an entry in its Garage 56 series, which allows it to race at Le Mans in June despite not fitting into any pre-ordained class.
The DeltaWing’s party piece, as previously reported, is its supposed ability to go around a race track as quickly as a comparable IndyCar but with half the horsepower and half the fuel consumption. That engine has turned out to be a 1.6-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder engine sourced from Nissan dubbed the DIG-T. Sound familiar? That’s the same moniker applied to the similar direct-injection, 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 engine found in the Nissan Juke. While the DIG-T makes all of 188 horsepower in the Juke, it should make roughly 300 in the DeltaWing, which according to DeltaWing creator Ben Bowlby, should be enough for a 235-mph top speed.
Shod in Michelin tires and campaigned by superstar racing team Highcroft Racing, the car will begin its first public testing laps in Sebring this week a few months ahead of a Le Mans race debut. It’ll be driven by British racer Marino Franchitti and German racer Michael Krumm, who is Nissan’s reigning FIA GT1 champion.