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Nissan unveils front-engined, front-wheel drive hybrid GT-R LM NIMSO Le Mans challenger

Nissan revealed its Le Mans challenger, the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, during a commercial break for Super Bowl XLIX. Nissan interpreted the sport’s technical regulations in an innovative way, producing a front-engined, front-wheel-drive car that is powered by a V6 3.0-liter twin turbo gasoline engine and a kinetic energy recovery system.

The front tires are wider than those in the rear (14" vs 9") due to the way that mass is distributed in the car. Nissan moved the weight bias forwards to provide traction for the front-engined, front-wheel drive. The aero is also moved forward; hence, Nissan moved the capacity of the tires forward to match the weight distribution. The aero center of pressure, the mass center of gravity and the tire capacity are all in harmony, said Ben Bowlby, Nissan’s LM P1 Team Principal and Technical Director. That means bigger tires at the front than the rear.

The new car will contest the LM P1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship. With more technical freedom than Formula 1, the LM P1 engineers have ample opportunity to innovate, Nissan noted. Nissan also announced three multi-year partnerships that will feature prominently in its LM P1 program: TAG Heuer is the Official Watch Partner and Official Timekeeping Partner; Motul is the Official Lubricants Partner for the program; and Michelin is the tire provider.


The GT-R is our flagship road car. This, the ultimate GT-R, continues a sporting bloodline that goes back three decades with NISMO, the motorsport and performance arm of Nissan. Le Mans drives innovation, so success on the track will lead to greater innovation in our road car range. We are the new kids at Le Mans. Our opponents are the best in the world, but we are ready.

—Roel de Vries, global head of Marketing and Brand Strategy at Nissan

Unlike other LM P1 cars, the GT-R’s V6 3.0-liter twin turbo gasoline engine sits in the front of the front-wheel-drive car, while the hybrid power is harvested from the front driveline to augment acceleration. The cockpit has been moved significantly rearwards to accommodate the engine at the front of the car. The ERS is housed ahead and beneath the driver’s feet in a self-contained module.

We have a very modern but conventional V6 3.0-liter twin turbo gasoline engine. This is a very efficient engine so it produces a large amount of power using the allotted fuel flow limit. 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 grams of fuel per second we can burn. So the more efficient you make the engine, the more power you have because you are still burning the same amount of fuel whether you are efficient or inefficient. So if you can make a very efficient engine, you get a lot of power. We are burning a smaller amount of fuel, around 30 percent less than was used by a gasoline engine at Le Mans in 2013, for example.

—Ben Bowlby

The LM P1 regulations for manufacturers have four hybrid powertrain options, defined by how much hybrid energy is released from the ERS per lap of Le Mans (the Le Mans track is used as the baseline circuit): 2MJ/lap, 4MJ/lap, 6MJ/lap and 8 MJ/lap.

Each megajoule is worth an amount of time per lap, so if you are an 8MJ car compared to a 2MJ car, you should be faster over the course of a lap. There are however some very big challenges, one of which is that you have to get the car down to the minimum weight because every 10-12 kilos is about half a second a lap around Le Mans. So if you have more weight in the car, that slows you down pretty significantly. 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.

—Ben Bowlby, Nissan’s LM P1 Team Principal and Technical Director

The 3.0-liter engine is a 60-degree V6, direct injection gasoline twin-turbo unit, mated to a 5-speed + reverse sequential gearbox with pneumatic paddle shift system. FIA FIA Homologated weight for the racer is 880 kg (1940.06 lbs).



What a mad idea, completely ignoring rearwards weight transfer under acceleration. I suppose it is one way to get the aerodynamic centre of pressure aft of the centre of gravity, avoiding lots of drag inducing wings and fins, but I thought race car designers pretty much had figured ways to make that work. Maybe the idea is to get more from the KERS by putting all the work through the front tyres, ie, taking advantage of the forward weight transfer under deceleration ?


I would like to see how it works. Stiff springs and traction control will make it easy to manage weight transfer.

I see the advantage here. Aerodynamic center of the more efficient under body ground effect wants to be forward. Chassis have become super lightweight while the rest has become heavier. So a rear wheel drive design suffers from excessive rear CG unless a draggy rear wing is added.

So this could be more efficient aerodynamically.

The other big issue is will this have good stability, i.e. no possibility of flipping...

Why not use rear electric motors?


I understood that a big disadvantage for front engines were the aerodynamics. The engine is at the front and you want to shove the exhaust and radiator outflow out the back (eg diffuser). Still possible but longer ducts with higher resistance required. Agree with the copensating aerodynamic advantages mentioned.

Also thought you'd have a through-the-ground hybrid with rear electric motor. But if you've got only one motor/generator (that's what F1 do?) then you'd want it up the front for braking.


DavidJ, it's a pure mechanical flywheel KERS.

Another advantage of this design is it allows maximum kinetic energy recover during braking. The front brakes could be downsized a lot.

In contrast, F1's current rules greatly limit braking energy recover by the KERS.


If all the weight is over the front wheels, and if there is adequate aero to stabilize the rear... running R compound tires this thing really wont have a traction issues... the thing only weighs 1940lbs, it should be fine with a FF setup, figuring that it probably is a 70: 30 split front to rear.

Ing. A.S.Stefanes

I think this is awesome!

First the delta-wing, which I really hope will return. Now this. Absolutely against the mainstream. GREAT. Needs more hybrid power though. be it electric / flywheel / hydraulic / air whatever.

Really looking forward to Le mans this year. Let's see what the other manufacturers come up with.


I have problem posting to this article.
Remove spaces from 'r a c e r':

Much more info on this site:
www.r a c e!Nissan_GT_R_LM_NISMO_LMP1_by_Marshall_Pruett_6

Looks like it's not a FWD, but an AWD. There is centre tunnel and a driveshaft through it for the rear wheels.

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