Following months of speculation and intrigue, Nissan officially announced Friday its entry into the LMP1 class for 2015, which will see a two-car full factory program in the FIA World Endurance Championship with the legendary GT-R model.
The Japanese manufacturer’s all-new prototype, the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, will take on the likes of Audi, Toyota and Porsche in what will be a global effort encompassing technical resources and facilities in Japan, Europe and the U.S.
The announcement came in East London, close to Nissan’s new global digital hub, with ACO President Pierre Fillon, NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani, NISMO Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, Darren Cox, as well as Nissan’s Chief Planning Office & Executive Vice-President Andy Palmer in attendance.
“We applaud the ACO and FIA for the work they have done to get the rules right,” Palmer said. “LMP1 is not just an arms race – all our rivals in the class have taken different technical approaches and we will be doing the same.
“We want to win in a very different way to that of our rivals. We won’t be turning up in a vehicle which is a basically another hybrid that looks like another Porsche, Audi or Toyota – they all look the same to me – our intention is to do something that is a little bit different.”
Nissan will return to Le Mans next month with its revolutionary ZEOD RC, in a bid to become the first manufacturer to complete a lap of the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe entirely on electric power.
Details on the GT-R LM NISMO’s power train and hybrid systems, which are mandatory in the new-for-2014 LMP1 regulations, have not been released, although some level of technology transfer is expected from this year’s Garage 56 entry.
“Nissan would not be in LMP1 without [Garage 56] as a stepping stone,” Cox said. “While we don’t have as much freedom in LMP1 as we have with Garage 56 and the Nissan ZEOD RC, the new rules package for LMP1 provides us with significant opportunities to do things differently.
“There are also a lot of lessons we have learned from ZEOD that have been key to bringing this project to life.”
Cox said the LMP1 car will begin testing in October, with plans to campaign the GT-R LM NISMO for two full seasons through the current rules cycle.
Drivers have yet to be announced but will include a mix of new and existing pilots to the manufacturer through its factory Super GT effort as well as its involvement in GT3, LMP2 and the highly successful GT Academy program.
“This LMP1 program is a brand new initiative and we will not be undertaking it at the exclusion of other programs,” said Miyatani-san. “Our aim will be to continue to race, to win in Super GT, LMP2, GT3 racing and V8 Supercars and now LMP1.”
Although further details on the program is expected to be announced in the coming weeks and months, the groundwork has already been laid in what will become a fast-paced schedule leading up to the start of the 2015 season.
“You don’t go to Le Mans to just turn up,” Palmer said. “The brief to the team is to go with something different, go with something that brings new technology which is transferable to the road car technology and an approach that is innovative and exciting and of course, go to win.
“Believe me, I think this is the car that will go down in the annals of time and be one of those cars which will be long remembered, not only for the fact that it will have won Le Mans but also that it reset the real meaning of NISMO as a link between success on the track and success on the road.”24 Hours of Le Mans, FIA WEC, Sports Cars