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Nissan poised for return to Le Mans in 2014

26/02/2013 - 11h20

Nissan is targeting a return to the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2014 with a pioneering Nissan race car showcasing electric technology.  The Garage 56 project will be led by Nismo, Nissan’s global motorsport and performance arm, and anticipates a potential return to the LMP1 category in the future.

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's CEO, announced today Tuesday 26th February in Yokohama (Japan), Nissan’s official entry to the world's greatest endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 2014.  

The manufacturer's comeback will be in two stages.  In 2014 Nissan has been invited to enter an innovative car featuring electric drivetrain technology in Garage 56.  Since 2012 a place on the Le Mans grid is awarded by the ACO to an innovative technological project, and the car in question takes part in the race but outside the overall classification.

Nissan will enter a car powered by a totally new powertrain featuring electric technology whose performance level will be defined so as not to interfere with the battle for outright victory or for wins in the different classes.  The aim of the entry using Garage 56 is to supply the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) with the necessary information to enhance the new LMP1 regulations and to assess their potential in racing conditions.

If all the conditions are met, the next step would be Nissan entering a car in the LMP1 category of the FIA World Endurance Championship with technology derived from the 2014 Garage 56.

The technical regulations that come into force in 2014 in the LMP1 category open the door to the inclusion of new technologies in motor racing, provided they can be measured and introduced while guaranteeing a level playing field for all entrants.

Nissan’s targeted participation will swell the ranks in the top category in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Japanese company could take on the great names of the motor industry such as Audi, Toyota and Porsche (the latter is due to make a come-back to LMP1 in 2014) in the battle for outright victory!

Nissan’s project is based on a revolutionary power train, which dovetails perfectly with the ACO’s wishes to feature top-level technology as an integral part of a no-holds-barred sporting contest. This initiative also underlines the validity of the creation of Garage 56.

Since 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been the greatest test bed for the major motor car manufacturers, and the race has generated a huge number of innovations which, although revolutionary when they first appeared, are now part of today’s production models on the road.

Windscreen wipers, disc brakes, diode headlights, radial tyres and turbocharged engines are among the many technologies that appeared at Le Mans and then became part of the everyday motorist’s car. This step, again proved in 2012 with the first victory by a hybrid, contributes not only to improve everyday mobility, but also takes into account the major preoccupations of our society linked to sustainable development.

Nissan raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time in 1986 and up till 1999 in cars bearing the make’s colours, with a best result of third place overall in 1998 (no. 32 Nissan R391 driven by Hoshino-Suzuki-Kageyama).

Since 2011, Nissan has been a major supplier of engines in LMP2, and in the 2013 edition of the 24 Hours 17 out of the 22 entries in this category will use the Japanese manufacturer’s engines.

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest:We’re very proud to confirm that Nissan is coming back to the Le Mans 24 Hours with a two-phase project, which should see the prestigious Japanese manufacturer being an outright victory contender in the future. This entry proves yet again that endurance racing as conceived by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest is the major motor car manufacturers’ favourite branch of motor racing! The values of technological development, sporting equity and popularity, which have been our driving force since 1923, correspond perfectly to the spirit of the major players on the world motor car scene who want to invest in racing.”  

Vincent Beaumesnil, Automobile Club de l’Ouest Sports Manager:The Nissan project shows yet again that Le Mans-type endurance is the priority testing ground for the major manufacturers in the development of new technologies. The common desire of the ACO and the FIA to allow the inclusion of new technologies in the LMP1 regulations coming into force in 2014 is paying off! We would like to thank the Nissan management for their confidence in us by taking the decision to test a revolutionary power train in next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours in preparation for their planned arrival in the LMP1 category in the future.

Fiona Miller (from ACO and Nissan press releases)

Photo:  FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, CARLOS GHOSN (NISSAN CEO) AND SHOICHI MIYATANI (NISMO PRESIDENT) AND NISMO'S NEW HQ AT NIGHT

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