Endurance racing is not all about outright speed; it’s also about efficiency and durability. Nissan comes back to the top P1 class of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) with this GT-R LM NISMO prototype. For this latest project, Nissan has combined all of the fast, high-technology letters of their performance alphabet: GT-R, NISMO, and LM (for Le Mans).
Race regulations limit the amount of energy flow, but there is plenty of room for experimentation with various drive-trains and configurations.
Nissan went way outside the box with creative thinking and came up with this front-engined, front-wheel-drive racing car. That’s right – eschewing convention, the power is sent to the front wheels. Most other LMP1 race cars are rear/mid-engined with all-wheel-drive configurations.
There is a fire-breathing 3.0L twin-turbocharged gasoline V-6 up front that produces around 550 horsepower. Interestingly, this engine is a developmental continuation of the 3.8-L twin-turbo found in the current road-going Nissan GT-R. The 3.0-L racing engine makes about the same power and is more efficient than the 3.8L production motor, according to Nissan. It’s within the realm of possibility, they said, that a version of this 3.0-L V6 will make it into the next-generation GT-R for the street.
The other part of the propulsion system is the kinetic energy recovery system (ERS). It’s able to recover energy from the front wheels and then release it later for acceleration. How it operates is a carefully guarded secret, but it’s reported to add up to 700 horsepower in bursts. This would take the GT-R LM’s total output to 1,250 horsepower on demand. There are regulations on how much electric and fuel-combustion energy the race car is allowed to expel per lap, and the Le Mans track is used as the standard. There are several categories from two megajoules to eight megajoules. The teams can choose the category that suits them best. The more megajoules of electricity you want to use, the less fuel-combustion energy you are allowed. It’s a complicated balance of efficiency and power delivery.
Nissan says it’s possible that the kinetic ERS system could also make it to the road-ready production vehicles down the line.
The GT-R LM puts its power down by way of 14-inch-wide front tires (the rears are 9 inches wide). The additional rubber up front should help, but we will have to wait until April to see how the car performs at the Silverston, UK race.
Here is a highlight reel of the new race car that Nissan calls #HeroComesHome.
Hear what one of the LM NISMO drivers – Mark Gene – has to say about the radical new Le Mans 24hour racer.