Nissan Planning to Run Three LMP1 Cars at Le Mans in 2015

Photo: Nissan

Photo: Nissan

Details on Nissan’s new factory LMP1 program are emerging, including plans of running a third car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as the identity of its team manager.

Multiple sources have confirmed to Sportscar365 that the Japanese manufacturer has brought on board IndyCar veteran Chris Mower to lead efforts for the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO program.

Mower, who is coming off a six-year stint with Panther Racing as its general manager, is understood to have started working with Nissan late last year at the manufacturer’s California-based facility.

Darren Cox, NISMO Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, would not confirm Mower’s hiring but said that “Chris would be a good choice for sure.”

Cox, however, revealed that it’s their hope to enter a third car at Le Mans next year, alongside the already confirmed two full-season FIA World Endurance Championship entries.

It would result in the need of ten drivers, including one reserve driver, and Cox admitted they are looking at existing pilots from the LMP1 ranks to lead their roster.

“I think you’ve got to have existing LMP1 drivers in the lineup,” Cox told Sportscar365. “You can’t go with a bunch of rookies. We’re not going to have a go and look at someone who’s gone and done [GP2] but hasn’t done any prototype racing.

“There’s guys that have done single-seaters that have done prototype racing [experience] and they’re the first guys we’ll talk to after the current P1 drivers.”

As for ensuring space in the lineup for GT Academy drivers, Cox said there are no guarantees and their selection will be purely based on performance.

“[The GT Academy] drivers have to do it on ability, not the fact that I like them,” he said. “It’s the exactly the same on Japanese drivers, GT Academy drivers or anyone we got in our current lineup.

“We will pick the best 10 drivers that we can find.”

Additionally, Cox denied rumors that the GT-R LM NISMO is a front-engined prototype, with details on the powertrain not likely to be revealed until early next year.

“We believe that there’s still a significant amount of innovation left in the rules,” he said. “You will be surprised on what we do on the powertrain.”

The first car, believed to be under construction at Dan Gurney’s AAR workshop in Santa Ana, Calif., is expected to begin testing in October.

Cox confirmed the GT-R LM NISMO’s first four scheduled tests will be conducted in private, at undisclosed Nissan testing facilities, which are located around the world.

26 Comments

  1. Byron Gacitua

    June 8, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I Think that the Drivers would be:

    Krumm and Motoyama (long-time Nissan Factory Divers), Lucas Ordoñez, Nick Heifeld, Thomas Erdos, Oliver Pla, Gustavo Yacaman and (hope that it will be) Rene Rast.

    • yup

      June 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      i would put alex bundle ahead of yacaman, and I’m not so sure about the first 2 but i agree with the rest of your lineup

      • Harrison Bien-Aime

        June 8, 2014 at 5:32 pm

        Krumm and Motoyama will in some shape or form be Apart of this Factory P1 effort, and Maybe See another Super GT 500 nissan driver( Japanese or Foreign) make the cut.

        Ordonez- I’ll expect him to be in one of the two WEC cars, maybe also expect Jann in also if Ordonez is one of the drivers.

        Erdos, Pla, Yacaman- No, and Double No( b/c these two most likely have a contract with Oak)

        Heifeld- no as he has a contract with Rebellion

        Luhr- 50-50 he’ll be one of the factory Nissan Drivers.

        Rast- NO, as he’s a factory Audi driver

        Brundle- maybe

        I think the drivers that will make the cut will be Luhr, Some GT academy Drivers, Some Super GT guys, and maybe Brundle or some other Nissan driver with LMP racing experience

    • Gino Basile

      September 29, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Yacaman? Are you nuts? Joao Paulo de Oliveira is much, much, much better option. Yacaman could be a good choice to destroy the cars after the tests. Is the best thing he does, to crash.

  2. K T

    June 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Would be great if somehow Geoff Brabham was involved.

  3. Bryshann

    June 8, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Luhr and Graf are my candidates, since they dropped out of tusc

    • Ben

      June 8, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      Great driver pair, it’s a shame the Muscle Milk team is no longer. Would be a great option for Nissan as Pickett was in talks of running factory GT3 program.

    • Denz

      June 8, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      I definitely see Luhr as an option, but I’m not so sure about Klaus.

  4. Jaymondo

    June 8, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Just wondered why Nissan are possibly building the car in the US and not in Japan or Europe?

  5. Simon

    June 8, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Sébastien Buemi. He was at the Nurburgring for the GT-R Nismo time attack with Michael Krumm last summer. I believe he’s involved with Infiniti through Red Bull Racing. And he’s certainly proving himself at Toyota.

    And yes with AAR involvement and an American team principal, they must be looking at a winter of testing in the US. I’ve read somewhere that the European tracks are getting harder to book with the unpredictable weather and the increasing number of factory teams.

  6. Pete

    June 9, 2014 at 4:10 am

    A front-engined hybrid prototype? Sounds intriguing. Like a modernized Panoz LMP-1. I miss that car.

  7. Simon

    June 9, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Like they say, they’ll be picking up P1 experienced drivers.

    There are some ex-908 drivers still knocking about in lower classes, like Minassian, Lamy etc

    • Bakkster

      June 9, 2014 at 8:26 am

      I wonder if they can make a good enough deal for Pagenaud. I could see him making it for at least Le Mans in the 3rd car.

      • NaBUru38

        June 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

        No way, Pagenaud is a Honda guy.

  8. sourthcove

    June 9, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Kind of like the AAR connection and of course Gurney was in it w Toyota GTP. And the flying dildo (though that was originally the AMR-1 tub was it not. No idea of how hi-tech his workshops are at this point, would have thought they would have gone to the hub of GP manufacturers in England.

    The other sentimental favorite would have been Electramotive Engineering, Don D and his guys…and a Lola built chassis. Sadly, no more Lola either.

  9. NaBUru38

    June 9, 2014 at 10:18 am

    How about Tom Kimber-Smith, John Martin or Oliver Turvey?

  10. Jaded_Nazgul

    June 9, 2014 at 10:29 am

  11. Scott

    June 9, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Has Montagny been black listed since he destroyed the Level 5 car at Laguna Seca? Has he done anything since then?

    • susafan

      June 10, 2014 at 5:15 am

      Yes he ran an Andretti car at the GP of Indianapolis.

    • kiiks

      June 10, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      I think he soured his image in LMP1 in 2011 when he blocked the last remaining R18 at LM24 while he was laps down. I don’t think he made many friends that year.

  12. Helmut

    June 15, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Great news. As we see this year it is definitely a good idea to have three cars around.

  13. Johnny

    June 16, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    After a great performance as a ‘super sub’ at Le Mans this year – Nissan should look no further than Marc Gene. He was great at Le Mans and has a wealth of prototype and F1 experience.

  14. Ted B

    June 16, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    From the Nissan family I see only one driver as REAL LMP1 material, Oliveira.
    Stunning form in Japan currently and is at the right timing career-wise.
    I would hire Bourdais to team up with him if he is available. If they could get Gene in the same car, that would be their main line up. Definitely a potential winner if they have the car to.
    For the other car they will probably need to run one Japanese (Nissan in a Japanese brand), so maybe Matsuda or Motoyama. Then I would say Pla or Klien and one of their academy guys, maybe Jan Maldenborough..
    There you go!

  15. Cf

    October 20, 2014 at 5:30 am

    Here is the 2015 list in my view:

    LMP1

    Audi Sport Team Joest No: 1, 2, 3 E-Tron Quattro 2014
    Toyota No: 7, 8 TS040 Hybrid
    Nissan No: 6, 9 GTR LM
    Rebellion No: 12, 13 Rebellion R One
    Porsche No: 20, 15 919 Hybrid
    Lotus No: 31, 32 CLM P1/01

    LMP2

    G Drive No: 26 Ligier JS P2
    SMP Racing No: 27, 37 Oreca 03R
    Strakka Racing No: 21 Dome Strakka S103
    KCMG No: 47 Oreca 03R
    Extreme Speed Motorsports No: 4,5 HPD ARX-04b

    LMP3

    Chip Ganassi Racing No: 24, 34 Ginetta-Juno LMP3
    Mazda SpeedSource Racing No: 60, 70 Lola B08/80
    Brabham Racing No; 10, 11 Ginetta-Juno LMP3
    Larbre Compétition No: 50, 79 ADESS LMP3
    Nissan LM3 Academy No: 36, 39 Ginetta-Juno LMP3
    CORE Autosport No: 54 Lola B08/80
    Starworks Motorsport No: 53 Ginetta-Juno LMP3

    GT Pro

    Aston Martin Racing No 96, 97, 99 Aston Martin Vantage GTE
    AF Corse No: 51, 71 Ferrari 458 Italia GT2
    Nissan GT Academy No; 16, 19 Nissan GT-R GT3
    Porsche Team Manthey No 91, 92 Porsche 911 RSR
    ART Grand Prix No: 59, 69 McLaren 650S GT3
    BMW Motorsport No: 55, 56 BMW Z4 GTE
    Audi Sport Team Joest No: 42, 43 Audi R8 LMS
    Corvette Racing No: 73, 74 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
    SRT Motorsports No: 92, 94 Dodge Viper GTS-R

    GT Am

    Aston Martin Racing No: 95, 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE
    AF Corse No: 61, 81 Ferrari 458 Italia GT2
    Flying Lizard Motorsports No: 44, 45 Audi R8 LMS
    TRG-AMR North America No: 87, 89 Aston Martin Vantage GTE
    8 Star Motorsports No: 90 Ferrari 458 Italia GT2
    Prospeed Competition No: 75 Porsche 911 RSR
    BMW Motorsport No: 16, 18 BMW Z4 GTE
    Proton Competition No: 88 Porsche 911 RSR

    • Snaeper

      November 21, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      The Nissan’s will likely be numbered #21, #22, #23, as those are the historical Nissan Factory numbers.

      • Cf

        January 31, 2015 at 12:05 pm

        LMP1- 1 to 20
        LMP2- 21 to 50
        GTE Pro/Am- 51 to 99

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