After making its maiden appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012, Don Panoz has been aiming to take the DeltaWing back to the twice-around-the-clock French endurance classic.
According to DeltaWing team boss Dave Price, the American Le Mans Series founder had actually lodged an entry request for the DeltaWing coupe this year. However, it was denied by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest on the grounds that it did not fit the regulations of any class.
The Nissan DeltaWing debuted at Le Mans as a Garage 56 entry, deemed as an experimental entry not confirming to any specific rulebook. Panoz took over the project at the start of this year, switching to an Elan-tuned Mazda-based powerplant, prior to development of a new closed-top model, which ran for the first time in last weekend’s ALMS race at COTA.
“It took a long time and a lot of resources to get [the roadster] sorted, so the coupe just kept getting put back,” Price told Sportscar365. “Don wanted it to run at Le Mans if we could have gotten an entry. He set some goals that we couldn’t achieve… You’ve got the situation now where it’s able to run as a P2 car next year. But then you have the situation with the DPs as well.”
While being balanced to P2 and DP speeds as part of the new Prototype category in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, the DeltaWing will not be ACO homologated. As a result it will not be eligible to race as a LMP2 car at Le Mans, according to a spokesperson from the French organization.
A return as a Garage 56 entry has also been ruled out, as the place is reserved annually for a new project, the ACO said. Nissan plans to debut its new ZEOD RC car as the Garage 56 representative in next year’s race.
With the narrow-track DeltaWing being half the weight, carrying half the fuel and producing half the power of a conventional LMP car, getting the car to conform to traditional prototype regulations would appear next to impossible.
Instead, Price is holding out hope the ACO changes its outlook on the allowance of new designs beyond Garage 56.
“I guess there’s been experiences in the past where somebody’s come up with something a bit different,” he said. “I suppose the first time someone put an engine in the back of a Formula One car, they had to make accommodations for it. They had to make accommodations at Indy for the first time Lotus turned up with an engine in the back of the car.
“I wouldn’t say the intent is to have every car be like that. I’m sure that it will be evolved. I can’t say what the ACO will want to do. But I’m sure Don would like to go to Le Mans with it, hence the fact that he entered it for this year.”