FEB 02nd 2015

Nissan's radical front‑engined, front‑wheel‑drive Le Mans challenger


An innovative assault on an outright Le Mans win is Nissan’s motorsport goal this year, and the racing car pictured here is how it intends to get the job done. Say hello to the GT-R LM NISMO – a front wheel driven, twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 powered LMP1 car that features an advanced kinetic energy recovery system allowing an 8 megajoule boost per lap of the 8.47-mile Le Mans circuit.

The car has already started testing in the US, and its unusual technical configuration is reflected in the body design which is apparently aero-biased towards maximising downforce at the front end in an effort to boost traction. Unusually, the car also runs wider Michelin race tyres on the front wheels – 14 inch against only 9 inches on the rears. 


‘The GT-R is our flagship road car,’ says Roel de Vries, Global Head of Marketing and Brand Strategy at Nissan. ‘This, the ultimate GT-R, continues a sporting bloodline that goes back three decades with NISMO, the motorsport and performance arm of Nissan. Le Mans drives innovation so success on the track will lead to greater innovation in our road car range.  We are the new kids at Le Mans; our opponents are the best in the world but we are ready.’

The new car will contest the LM P1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the highest category in world sports car racing. Starting at Silverstone, UK on 12 April the series travels around the world to Spa in Belgium, onto the Le Mans 24 Hours and Germany’s Nürburgring, before going global with races in the US, Japan, China and the Middle East.


The FIA World Endurance Championship is the ultimate proving ground for automotive companies as technological gains on the track can carry through to road cars. Racing car engineers are facing the same challenges as road car engineers as the spotlight falls on energy efficiency. With more technical freedom than Formula 1, the LM P1 engineers have ample opportunity to innovate.

‘This is innovation that excites,’ said Shoichi Miyatani, President of NISMO. ‘Sustainability is at the top of our agenda and the technical regulations for Le Mans give us the freedom to pursue new ideas in this area. Our record at Le Mans is third place overall so we have unfinished business there. We want to win and we have the knowledge to do that – for our customers, our employees and our fans. The competition is exceptionally strong and we are excited by the challenge.’ 


We’re excited too, not least because Le Mans heroes have a wonderful habit of turning up at the Goodwood for the Festival of Speed still wearing the dust and scars of the 24-hour classic. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see the GT-R LM NISMO on the hillclimb in June? 

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