Having the Nurburgring Nordschleife lap record for a production car has always been a point of pride for performance manufacturers. It's a way for them to prove how capable their vehicles are on the historically tough track, and at a minimum, a great resource for marketing the six- or seven-figure supercars in question.
For Laurent Tapie, French entrepreneur and the new CEO of Delage, a 'Ring record is a hugely important benchmark for the brand. And with the D12, it's something Tapie believes can be done by the end of the year, or early in 2023.
"I want the [D12] to beat the Nurburgring lap record in the category street-legal," Laurent told me in an interview at Delage's soon-to-be-opened Ft. Lauderdale showroom.
The D12 certainly has the hardware to challenge the 'Ring record. The 7.6-litre naturally aspired V12 under the bonnet produces 960 bhp, and when joined by a 110-bhp electric motor in the top trim, the D12 has a total output of 1,100 bhp. But Tapie says that the D12's aerodynamic-centric, F1-inspired design will be the differentiator– and the key to success.
In order to make this radical design possible, Laurent recruited a team of experts. At the helm is Benoit Bagur, a motorsport team engineer with more than 35 years of experience in high-level racing.
"When I recruited Benoit, the head of the project, I said… 'I want you to create something that is as close as possible to driving a Formula 1 car.' And if it is close, that means it's going to be faster than anything else on the track."
"[Benoit] said, 'the secret to go fast on the track, especially a real long track like this, is the aerodynamics.' Because at the end of the day, hypercars and supercars are all extremely powerful… but the real difference is the aerodynamics. If you want to have maximum downforce on the front, you make the front of a Formula 1 car. It's no accident that Formula 1 uses this shape… so we very early defined the project this way."
The Delage D12 is still in the final phases of prototyping, but Tapie tells me that the hypercar has been fully certified and crash-tested in Europe, typically one of the biggest hurdles to upstart automakers such as this. The first customer examples should hit the road towards the end of the year.
We’ll have a full interview with Delage CEO Laurent Tapie in the coming weeks.