Nisan at Le Mans 2015: Scrutineering Session



Le Mans, France (Thursday 11 June 2015): The world has never seen a racing car quite like the GT-R LM NISMO. Radical in concept and bold in execution, it was created at the point where imagination, knowledge and courage intersect. Its mission is to explore new ideas, to pioneer an uncharted route toward unprecedented speed and efficiency and, ultimately, outright victory in the greatest motor race of them all, the Le Mans 24 Hours.

PrintNo one has ever attempted to win Le Mans outright with a front-engined, front-wheel drive racing car. To some, the very notion of it seems preposterous when history points to cars with precisely the opposite configuration being the accepted route to glory. Yet if you’re prepared to cast convention aside and look to science, the rule book and the race itself, compelling new answers can be found. Nissan’s is the GT-R LM NISMO.

By adopting a radical front-engined, front-wheel drive layout, the GT-R LM NISMO literally turns the rulebook on its head, finding creative freedom in the same technical regulations that have evolved to restrict the performance of the conventional LM P1 contenders. Combined with a hybrid propulsion system that mates a powerful, super-efficient and compact V6 twin-turbo petrol engine with a mechanical flywheel Energy Recovery System (ERS), the revolutionary GT-R LM NISMO is blessed with exceptional straight-line speed, immense all-weather stability and enviable efficiency.

To understand its intricacies and appreciate where its advantages lie, who better to explain the thinking behind the GT-R LM NISMO and run through some of its technical highlights than its creator, Nissan’s LM P1 Technical Director, Ben Bowlby:

“Mad. Brave. Genius.” – The NISSAN GT-R LM NISMO CONCEPT

Q1: The GT-R LM NISMO is a pretty wild idea. Where did it come from?

Bowlby: The car is the star at Le Mans, no question. It’s so important because perhaps more than any other, it’s a real engineering race. As a first year entrant we had to ask ourselves how we can stand a chance of being competitive when the main opposition is 15 years and several billion dollars ahead in experience and development. The answer – our answer – was to innovate. We don’t have as big a budget as the other guys, but we are rich in ideas. There’s virtually no chance to beat our rivals at their own game, so innovating gives us a better chance at competitiveness.

Q2: What informed your thinking when designing the GT-R LM NISMO?

Bowlby: To succeed at Le Mans first of all you look at the rule book, and then you look at the race itself. The rules are open to interpretation – as I think we’ve proved – but the race always throws surprises. There are so many potential variables beyond your control – extreme heat, torrential rain, slow traffic, spilled oil and coolant. A big part of the challenge is acknowledging that and designing a car with a wide operating range.

Q3: So what are the GT-R LM NISMO’s key strengths?

Bowlby: It’s hard to separate individual qualities because the concept and design of the car is a system – every element influences the other. If I had to pick out three things I would say efficiency, stability and straight-line speed. But you have to remember these are the product of the aerodynamics, which in turn were only possible to achieve because of the forward positioning of the transmission and engine, and our commitment to run front-wheel drive.


Q4: The GT-R LM NISMO looks very different to its rivals. Why is that?

Bowlby: For years the leading LM P1 contenders have designed cars that follow the same basic design, so the rules have evolved to find ways of limiting their performance by making it difficult to generate very efficient downforce at the rear of the car. It’s also difficult to make maximum downforce, because the dimensions and shape of the rear wing are also restricted. However, the front has always been considered relatively free, so we thought, “Why not turn the rules on their head and make a car with oodles of downforce at the front?” Not only does this give us greater freedom within the r