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The Nissan DeltaWing’s assault on the 15th annual Petit Le Mans event suffered a set-back in testing today when Gunnar Jeannette was struck by a GTC Porsche and forced into a violent roll.

Nissan Deltawing Crash

The Nissan DeltaWing was only 4/10ths of a second slower than the fastest P2 car in sixth place on the timesheet in this afternoon’s session. Unfortunately during the session Jeannette was passing a GTC class Porsche when he was struck violently in the left rear wheel.

The massive impact was measured at 7Gs on the team’s telementary system. Video footage from the Nissan-powered Conquest Racing P2 car of Martin Plowman showed the Porsche bouncing off the exit kerb at turn 10b and smashing into the Nissan DeltaWing as Jeannette was going by.

Gunnar Jeannette

The car scraped down the road on its roll hoops before suffering a heavy impact with the wall and landing back on its wheels.

Jeannette was transferred to the track medical centre but was soon released with no injuries suffered.

Nissan Deltawing Crash 2012

The crew immediately began work on repairing the damage with a target on having the car return to the track tomorrow.

Prior to the impact, the Nissan DeltaWing had set a fastest time of 1 minute, 13.686 seconds for the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit.

Practice continues tomorrow at 10:15am with an additional session at 3:20pm and a night session from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.


“Not the best of practice sessions, unfortunately.

“Everything was going well… I followed a GTC car through [turns] 10a and 10b and I had a run on him exiting the corner before the bridge and pulled almost completely past.

“He cut over to take the apex and made heavy contact with the left-rear of our car that sent me for a bit of a ride.

Nissan Deltawing Porche Crash

“Luckily, the guys built a very strong car.

“While the damage looks to be bad in photographs, the car took the impact quite well. We have all the spare parts to fix it and we have an excellent crew that got to work straight away and had the car stripped down remarkably quickly.”


“Unfortunately a GT crossed over on Gunnar near the bridge and it is a very risky and dangerous place for this to happen.

“Gunnar had a big roll and finished in the grass. Fortunately he is OK and that is the most important thing.

“The car has big damage but the team is working really hard and the guys are really professional so I am sure the car will be OK for the next session.

“Before the crash I had a run and bedded in new stuff like brakes and the new engine. The car was quite strong and I was feeling quite good in the car.

“The car was really good and efficient in high speed corners. We were sixth fastest and I felt really confident in the traffic. We are certainly going forward and learning a lot and we just have our fingers crossed for tomorrow.”


“The most important thing is that Gunnar is OK after a very nasty accident.

“The guys are working very hard and will do everything they can to get back on track tomorrow.

“What I am most pleased about is that while the car obviously passed all the virtual and actual FIA crash tests prior to running at Le Mans, we’ve unfortunately tested the car in real world incidents twice now and in both cases the car has done its job in protecting the driver.

“We’d rather not do it again but we’ve certainly shown the concept works and it is very safe.”


“This was certainly not the start to the week we were looking for, but the positive aspects are that the car has shown very impressive speed and that Gunnar was able to walk away from the incident.

“There is quite a bit of damage but we are also fortunate for the team to be able to call on the guys from Elan Motorsport Technologies for additional backup to tend to any issues – particularly related to composites.

“The car certainly did its job in protecting the driver – hopefully that’s the last time we need to worry about testing that aspect of the car.”


131, 000: Last year’s Petit Le Mans crowd
7400: peak power rpm
1265: car weight in pounds with fuel and driver
1000 miles / 10 hours: Race duration (whichever comes first)
300: horsepower
200.2: engine weight in pounds
73.025: seconds – fastest lap in official testing this week
42: entries for Petit Le Mans
30: Gunnar Jeannette’s age
27: Lucas Ordoñez’s age
10.56: gallon fuel tank (half that of a regular prototype)
15th: running of Petit Le Mans
12: months since the sportscar version of the DeltaWing was unveiled at Petit Le Mans, 2011
5: speed transmission
4: inch wide Michelin front tyres
4th: Gunnar Jeannette’s best overall finish at Petit (2003)
3: wheel nuts on front wheels
2.54: Road Atlanta track length in miles
2.49: width of the front of the car in feet
2nd: Petit Le Mans race start for Lucas Ordoñez
2: drivers, Gunnar Jeanntte & Lucas Ordoñez
1.6: litre Nissan DIG-T engine
1: centre wheel nut on rear wheels


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