Top Stories of 2015; #20: Nissan's radical new LMP1 challenger

Welcome to Motorsport.com's Top 20 Stories of 2015. Kicking off our list at #20 is the story of Nissan's innovative but troubled GT-R LM NISMO LMP1 machine.

Top Stories of 2015; #20: Nissan's radical new LMP1 challenger
#23 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO: Olivier Pla, Jann Mardenborough, Max Chilton
#22 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO details
Nissan Nismo hauler
Teaser image of the Nissan LMP1
#22 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO: Harry Tincknell, Alex Buncombe, Michael Krumm
#23 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO: Olivier Pla, Jann Mardenborough, Max Chilton
#22 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO: Harry Tincknell, Alex Buncombe, Michael Krumm
#23 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO: Olivier Pla, Jann Mardenborough, Max Chilton
#22 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO: Harry Tincknell, Alex Buncombe, Michael Krumm
#21 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO: Tsugio Matsuda, Lucas Ordonez, Mark Shulzhitskiy
#22 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO: Harry Tincknell, Alex Buncombe, Michael Krumm
#23 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO: Olivier Pla
#23 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO practicing driver changes
#23 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
#23 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
#22 Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO

Two commercials aired during Super Bowl XLIX, showing off the radical Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, including the one featured above.

Team principal and technical director Ben Bowlby said this when discussing the unique look of the WEC challenger: “The regulations have allowed us the freedom to create a significantly different looking car. Nissan are bold challengers who are prepared to innovate in order to get a high performance outcome so we’ve turned the whole concept of the conventional LMP1 car of 2014 on its head."

That they did. The car was nothing short of bizarre, and essentially the reverse of what their rivals were doing. Among the several innovative features on the prototype, nothing stands out more than the front-engine, front-wheel drive design that baffled us all. 

Under the hood is a 3.0 L direct-injected twin-turbocharged V6.

Le Mans test

It was a very different and ambitious way of doing things that ultimately proved unsuccessful when put to the test with a variety of issues plaguing the program. Nissan opted to skip the first two rounds of the season, making Le Mans the team's on-track debut.

In France, the three GT-R LM NISMO machines struggled to find pace, barely edging out the LMP2 field in qualifying and languishing over 20 seconds adrift of Neel Jani's polesitting Porsche 919 Hybrid.

Issues with the ERS meant that they were forced to run Le Mans on engine power alone, compromising other systems within the car. All three entries battled various issues throughout the 24-hour test, and when the checkered flag flew, only the No. 22 (driven by Harry Tincknell, Alex Buncombe, Michael Krumm) remained, ending the historic race as the last car running and completing a total of 242 laps.

Despite the poor result, Nissan's ability to even get a car to the finish was a victory in itself. “I am feeling very proud of the whole team right now,” said Nissan’s Darren Cox. “For sure we have had problems but that’s what happens when you innovate. Our engine is strong and we were able to quickly fix the other problems that we had. We have learnt an incredible amount at Le Mans and our battles will only make us stronger.

"Most LMP1 manufacturers don’t finish Le Mans at their first attempt so it was important for us to hit this target. The guys in the garage are the heroes this weekend and the drivers have all done an incredible job, sometimes in very difficult circumstances."

Moving forward

After skipping first the Nurburgring WEC race and then the remainder of the season, the GT-R LM NISMO has still yet to race since Le Mans, while Cox, the architect of the project, has since parted ways with the company after a full decade.

Nissan has been working hard to overcome the technical gremlins and has made several changes in team management positions with plans to give it another go in 2016, bringing an upgraded and (hopefully) more reliable WEC challenger.

The last word goes to NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani: "We are committed to competing at the highest level, and we are not happy when we are not winning."

Mere days after the posting of this article, Nissan announced that they have withdrawn from the 2016 WEC season: STORY HERE

shares
comments
FIA "stupid" to create F1/Le Mans clash, says Stuck

Previous article

FIA "stupid" to create F1/Le Mans clash, says Stuck

Next article

Senna closes in on 2016 WEC drive

Senna closes in on 2016 WEC drive
Load comments
The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial Prime

The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial

OPINION: After 24 Le Mans 24 Hours participations, 50-year-old Emmanuel Collard will be absent from the grid this year, stuck at the mercy of his gold driver grading. But, while he's not motivated by breaking start records, the French veteran is determined to return to the field next year.

WEC
Jul 24, 2021
How glitches threatened Toyota's unbeaten WEC streak Prime

How glitches threatened Toyota's unbeaten WEC streak

The FIA World Endurance Championship's long-awaited return to Monza posed the sternest test yet for Toyota's new hypercar. Although the Japanese marque's GR010 Hybrid remains unbeaten, the victory for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi was far from plain sailing.

WEC
Jul 19, 2021
The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence Prime

The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence

Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Prime

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness.

Le Mans
Jun 23, 2021
How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear Prime

How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear

Despite going stride for stride for pace at Portimao, Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 couldn’t convert pole position into a sustained victory fight against Toyota. And due to rules and car limitations that are set in stone, the French manufacturer will be searching for solutions in its own battle of endurance.

WEC
Jun 14, 2021
Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota Prime

Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota

This weekend's Portimao 8 Hours round of the FIA World Endurance Championship marks the 100th world champion prototype start for Toyota. Here are the major milestones on the road to three figures since the earliest low-key days of its entry into the Group C arena nearly 40 years ago.

WEC
Jun 12, 2021
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Prime

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

WEC
May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Prime

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory.

WEC
May 4, 2021