Last week, Nissan tested its ZEOD RC (Zero Emissions On Demand Race Car), the hybrid racer based on last year’s DeltaWing, at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans. One of the team’s goals during testing was to complete an entire lap of the 8.5 mile long circuit on electric power alone. While they fell short of their target, the practice session still yielded valuable information that will help the team in the annual 24 hour Le Mans endurance race this weekend. Said Darren Cox, head of Nissan’s global racing activities:
“Today has been a very important step in the development of the car and what we have achieved is actually quite remarkable. We knew we were tackling a huge challenge with the goal of building a car that could complete an entire 8.5 mile lap of Le Mans on nothing but electric power. We have certainly discovered why nobody has tackled it previously. We completed large sections of the circuit today on EV power and learned a great deal.
Today was about testing the systems and ensuring the transition from electric to internal combustion power was seamless. Testing at other venues is extremely valuable but there is no substitute to running here at Le Mans. We ran with the test car today and we’ll continue to test with the actual race car all week back in the UK before heading back for the race.”
The team is continuing its testing of the car in the UK this week before heading back to the track in France this weekend, working out technical issues like a broken fuel pump and exhaust system.
The DeltaWing is the creation of racing engineer Ben Bowlsby and represents a significant departure from traditional race car design. The innovations make the car lighter so that it can be powered by a smaller, more fuel efficient engine package, and the Nissan ZEOD RC built on the initial DeltaWing design, which now belongs to the litigious Don Panoz. In endurance racing, reducing the time spent refueling is just as important as having the fastest car on the track. Maybe more so.