Nissan to compete at Le Mans in innovative style
If we weren’t already excited enough to see Toyota’s re-entry to the World Rally Championship with the new Yaris WRC, Nissan has used a 90 second Super Bowl commercial to announce its return to top-level endurance racing with an LMP1 class competitor, its first since the 1999 R391.
Nissan’s radically designed GT-R LM NISMO will compete in this year’s Le Mans against the likes of Audi, Porsche and its key Japanese rival Toyota.
What makes the GT-R LM NISMO a stand-out is the placement of the engine in the front of the chassis. It bucks the current, and for decades successful, trend of mounting engines behind the driver. The new configuration also means the driver’s cabin has been pushed back further than convention, adding to the GT-R LM NISMO’s unique aesthetics.
First driver of Nissan LMP1 Marc Gené
Nissan was able to utilise virtually any engine configuration, on the proviso that it met certain fuel flow limits. A twin-turbocharged 3.0 litre V6, working in conjunction with an electric-drive system, powers the front-wheels.
The electric power is harvested from a kinetic energy recovery system (ERS), and according to Team Principal and Technical Director Ben Bowlby it’s the utilisation of this energy that makes it so effective. The idea being that the stored energy is deployed in very short and powerful bursts. Ben likens it to the difference between the energy in a stick of dynamite being used in one short bang, or dragged out across a day.
As a further point difference and innovation, the Japanese manufacturer has mounted wider tyres up front, 14-inch against the 9-inch rears, to stabilise the weight bias and aero centre of gravity over the front.
It will be interesting to see how Nissan’s approach to top-level endurance racing is able to fair against some of the current top dogs.