…….for now at least.
Although I am sure there will be some in the race that want to know how a driver, with the calibre Nakajima has, can part overtake the car then not see it! And of course the fact Nakajima was driving for a rival Japanese manufacturer will not go unnoticed in some quarters. judge for yourself how someone can overtake then forget and then sideswipe another car.
When a car weighing 900kg and 2000 cm wide sideswipes a car with a much narrower wheelbase and weighing only 590kg (with full tank) there is only ever going to be one winner!
As a result of a huge crash when amateur driver Piergiuseppe Perazzini, in a Ferrari 458 sports-car, clipped Anthony Davidson’s Toyota TS030 Hybrid and it flew into the air overtaking was suspended for half an hour. With cars bunched together at the restart, the Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima made contact with the Nissan DeltaWing, which went into a wall and had to quit the race because of damage to its front end. Remember the front tyres of the Delta Wing are only 10cm wide each!
The Delta Wing team of Lucas Luhr, Marino Franchitti, Michael Krumm and Satoshi Motoyama did a great job. the car was performing well and was quicker than the top GT cars. It had established a good position but it wasn’t to be:
“Sorry that it ended that way, but it was a good effort”, said Lucas Luhr, right after the Nissan DeltaWing was retired from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Despite a 90-minute effort in which he tried to repair the car to get it back to the pits — helped by mechanics shouting instructions from the sidelines — it was too badly damaged to continue. The DeltaWing drivers were furious at Nakajima’s clumsiness.
Franchitti said: “He used to hit a lot of things when he was in F1 and things don’t seem to have changed.”
Krumm pointed out there is often contact in the Japanese Super GT series in which Nakajima now competes — and he possibly forgot where he was.
Krumm added: “Satoshi did everything right. He made space to let the leaders go through but Nakajima misjudged the situation.”
Motoyama said: “I tried everything I could to fix the car but since the power train damage was particularly serious we couldn’t revive it.”
Nakajima’s Toyota was damaged by the impact. And although it was repaired in the pits the car was later retired with engine problems.
The future for the DeltaWing is uncertain as there is no motorsport category in which it can compete outside Le Mans. Nissan Europe’s Darren Cox said he and the rest of the team were “initially gutted” by the crash.
But he added: “That feeling quickly gave way to a huge sense of pride in what we have achieved. Everyone should celebrate the success that the Nissan DeltaWing has been and feel pride in the impact it will have as a test bed for future innovations both on the road and track.”