Le Mans is known for several things: a famous accident, 24 hour endurance races and the Bugatti Circuit. You’ll notice that all of these are related to motorsports and that’s hardly surprising. The 24 Hours of Le Mans race is perhaps the only race consumed predominately though highlight reels (unless you’re a super-fan) but it’s also one of the toughest in the world. It’s especially gruelling for the vehicles that are specially constructed to take on the extended affair.
Nissan is one automotive company that are planning on challenging Le Mans this year in June and they’ve revealed some of the details concerning the vehicle that they’re sending into the crucible in 2015. The Nissan GT-R LM NISMO is a 3-litre V6 twin turbo sports car that has been put together by a team from Japan, the States and Europe and the petrol engine isn’t alone. Not totally alone, anyway. The front-wheel drive LM P1 GT-R generates power that is stored by the ERS (energy recovery system) in order to boost acceleration out of corners.
“The fuel flow limit is one of the new regulations at Le Mans – we’re not limited by the engine capacity or the boost pressure or the RPM of the engine – we’re limited by how many grammes of fuel per second we can burn…We are burning a smaller amount of fuel, around 30% less than was used by a petrol engine at Le Mans in 2013.”
The petrol engine harvests kinetic power from the front, driving, wheels and this is used to explode the GT-R out of a corner, something that is apparently within the rules of Le Mans this year. Bowdly continues, “Think about a stick of dynamite. That’s actually quite a small amount of energy but it is released in a spilt second so it makes a very big bang…it’s all about how fast you release the energy.”
Nissan have also made changes this year to how their vehicles looks. They’ve widened the front tyres compared to the rear, “…to give us traction for the front-engined, front-wheel drive,” something that is the result of the entire vehicle’s weight bias being altered. The aerodynamics have moved forward, the cockpit has been shifted back to fit in the engine, resulting in something that looks a little… odd as Le Mans challengers go.
But Nissan has hopeful that this GT-R will be a serious contender. Bowdly says “The challenge is to package a big, powerful energy recovery system without going over the weight limit and that is very hard to do. We’re going to be really challenged to make our weight target of 880 kilos for 2015 when half of the weight of the car is the powertrain: engine, ERS and the driveline – so that’s a very big challenge.”