Nissan has been incredibly open with the development of its bizarre front-engine, front-wheel-drive science experiment, the 2016 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo, and now the team is preparing to make its race debut in one of the racing world’s toughest arenas, at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans. In this latest video, Nissan drivers and engineers discuss the progress that’s been made since the first Le Mans test session earlier this month.
The team has found some time since arriving at Le Mans but there’s still a long way to go. The fastest of the three Nissans, the No. 23 car of Olivier Pla, Jann Mardenborough and Max Chilton, posted a 3:38.468 in the first qualifying session, a roughly five-second improvement over its best time during the test day. However, that’s still over 20 seconds adrift of the blindingly fast time set by Neel Jani in one of the 2015 Porsche 919 Hybrids in the same session.
There are still a few more qualifying and practice sessions before the race itself, but, barring three Porsches, three Audis and two Toyotas all suffering catastrophic failures, don’t expect to see the Nissans vying for the race win this weekend. The team won’t say it, but they’re likely looking at this weekend’s race as a 24-hour practice session, in which they will try to learn as much as possible before the WEC season continues. The GT-R LM Nismo has completed several 24-hour race simulations at NCM Motorsports Park (near the Corvette factory of all places) in Bowling Green, Kentucky, so the durability should be there to get them to the end.
The GT-R LM Nismo is a radical rethink of the Le Mans prototype formula. The front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout is unique in a field of mid-engine race cars. Its 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 combines with a flywheel kinetic-energy recovery system to produce around 1,250 horsepower, and Nissan says the lack of an engine in the back cleans up aerodynamics around the rear bodywork. It’s weird, but that’s why we love it.