Nissan and Nismo will begin a new and exciting chapter next year with the launch of the GT-R LM NISMO, the Japanese manufacturer’s factory LMP1 effort, which was officially announced Friday in London.
While few details have been released on the groundbreaking new program, which will go head-to-head with Audi, Porsche and Toyota in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship, it marks a monumental occasion for the brand as it re-enters top level prototype racing.
Below is a Q&A with NISMO Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, Darren Cox:
Why has Nissan decided to go LMP1 racing and when can we expect the car?
“What the ACO and the FIA have done in developing the new regulations for LMP1 is to create something that is both technologically innovative and provides a key platform for manufacturers like Nissan to talk about subjects like fuel efficiency in an exciting way.
“With the FIA World Endurance Championship we also have the opportunity to test our technology in different markets around the world; that is very important for a global company such as Nissan. Accessibility is also very important for Nissan. We want our fans, our customers to see what happens behind the scenes, to feel like they are part of our team. We sell cars all over the world so we want to race all over the world too.
“In terms of timing, the new LMP1 rules for factory entries is perfect for us. The new focus on energy efficiency for 2014 and beyond means the engineering challenges have real relevance to the challenges our engineers face on our road car projects. Our schedule is to test the car in October and run for two full seasons until the end of the current rule cycle in . ”
“More technical and operational details will be shared with our fans in the coming months but you can expect to see many familiar Nissan and Nismo faces in the design, development and race operations for the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.”
What makes Le Mans and the FIA WEC so attractive to Nissan?
“Nissan is one of the big players in the global automotive industry and we are growing fast by leading the push for innovation in many areas. Le Mans is the biggest race in the world and is renowned for more than 90 years as the race that drives the most breakthroughs in innovation. Some of the biggest brands in the world are racing there.
“Our engineers across the globe are passionate about cars and we want to give them a flagship project with our hero car that they can be proud of and to showcase for them, and the world, our innovative engineering mentality.
“The ACO and the FIA must be commended on the rules they have created because unlike many other series around the world, there is real room for technical innovation in LMP1. For many other series the rulebook is so confining that the design team is extremely restricted in what they can achieve.
“We know what we are going to attempt is going to be extremely challenging. Our manufacturer rivals all have incredible pedigrees in Le Mans-style sportscar racing. We’ll be coming in as the underdogs, the new kids on the block with a lot to learn but we’re coming with serious intentions.
“We know the competition and we respect the track and we’re coming here to challenge both. As a brand, we are the disruptive force. We’ve shown that in so many ways, and now we’re bringing that attitude to the front of the grid at Le Mans.”
Who is going to drive the cars?
“No decisions have been made on drivers at this point in time. Nissan has a lot of very talented drivers. Their backgrounds are varied. Our large talent pool in Japan for Super GT is a big advantage to have as is the young guys who have come through GT Academy and already have Le Mans experience.
“Our goal is to get the best guys we can to drive the cars – we’ll have some drivers who are already within the Nissan “family”, but we’ll also have some new additions to the family.
“It doesn’t matter what country they’re from, the drivers will be chosen on speed and having the right mindset for Nissan and NISMO – not necessarily on nationality.”
Has Nissan’s involvement in the two Garage 56 projects been a stepping stone to LMP1?
“Absolutely! The ACO should be highly praised for introducing the Garage 56 idea.
“One key aspect is we certainly recognize the Le Mans 24 Hours as an exceptional platform that provides a tremendous opportunity to talk to people that are passionate about cars . If we weren’t happy with what was achieved at Le Mans with LM P2 for example , we wouldn’t be here today.
“There are a lot of people involved in this program who at the heart of it are very hard core racers. We know we have a big mountain to climb, but we’ll be giving this everything we’ve got.”