Franchitti devastated by early exitposted in LMANS16 | 06 | 2012
BATHGATE'S MARINO FRANCHITTI suffered the biggest disappointment imaginable at the 80th running of the Le Mans 24-Hours race (see more photos of the Nissan DeltaWing in action at Le Mans 24-Hours).
While fellow Scot Allan McNish remained on course for his third win at Le Mans, giving the Audi e-tron quattro diesel-hybrid a maiden win, Franchitti was left devastated.
After spending the last 100 days developing the innovative Nissan DeltaWing, the 33-year-old Scot left the famous La Sarthe street circuit without having turned a wheel in anger.
Franchitti was scheduled to take the car's third stint, following team-mates, German Michael Krumm and Satoshi Motoyama.
But after an impressive six hours, and with Motoyama behind the wheel, the DeltaWing was barged off the track by the Toyota of fellow Japanese driver Kazuki Nakajima.
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The Nissan clattered heavily into the wall on the exit of the Porsche Curves. And despite Motoyama working for more than 90 minutes to try to repair the car to get it back to the pits, the damage to both the right rear and front of the car was too severe (watch video of Motoyama working hard to repair Nissan DeltaWing).
While the Nissan DeltaWing crew were able to offer advice, the driver is the only person permitted to work on the car while out on the course.
"Nakajima's spacial awareness didn't appear to be functioning as best it could," Franchitti said afterwards. “I'm just devastated for everyone involved in the whole Nissan DeltaWing program.
“Of all the things to force us out of the race, being taken out of the race by somebody else is very tough to swallow.
"It's nice that the issues we had were not Nissan DeltaWing parts, so I'm just really proud of what everyone at the team has done.
“For me personally, having done all the testing of the car and then to not get to drive in the race is particularly hard.
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"The car took a really big hit, but it withstood the impact. She's a tough wee thing. We pushed her hard in testing: we haven't babied it.
"We've tried to make as good an endurance car as we could in the 100 days we've had the project. The heart Satoshi showed in trying to repair the car and get it back to the pits was amazing.
"But I firmly believe this isn't the end of the Nissan DeltaWing story, because it's been a great thing for us and for sportscars as a whole."
Nissan has yet to confirm future plans for the cars. But it's expected the car — which is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine and which aimed to complete the 24-Hours race using around half the fuel of other cars — will race next season in America.
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