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Nissan Details its Front-Engine GT-R LM Nismo Prototype Racer

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2/3/2015 Alex Nishimoto
Nissan Details its Front-Engine GT-R LM Nismo Prototype Racer

Nissan surprised us all when it debuted not only the new Maxima but also its radical Le Mans prototype during this past weekend's Super Bowl. Now, the automaker has revealed a few more details on its front-engine, front-wheel-drive GT-R LM Nismo.

First, it's important to clear up what the "front-drive" bit actually refers to. The internal combustion engine, a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, solely powers the front wheels. But a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) transmits power to the front and rear wheels, giving this LMP1-class racer part-time all-wheel drive. What gives the GT-R LM Nismo its unique profile is its front-mid engine layout. Putting the engine ahead of the driver is highly unusual for a sports car prototype, especially considering mid-engine designs have won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the last 50 years or so. But Nissan technical director and LMP team principal Ben Bowlby, who also designed the Delta Wing, is no stranger to unusual designs.

"The regulations have allowed us the freedom to create a significantly different looking car," Bowlby said in a release. Those regulations also dictate when the prototype is able to use its KERS hybrid power. Bowlby says that the energy collected from braking is released very quickly coming out of a corner, helping the race car get back up to speed. Nissan doesn't say exactly how much power the GT-R LM Nismo makes, but the tehnical director does elaborate on why the twin-turbo V-6 was chosen.

"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."

The prototype wears 14-inch Michelin racing tires in the front, and narrower 9-inch tires in the rear. Nissan says this is due to the way the weight is distributed, which also necessitated the aero being moved forward.

Nissan GT R LM Nismo race car© Provided by MotorTrend Nissan GT R LM Nismo race car

Testing for the car began last year in Arizona and continues in the U.S. today. The car will contest the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship, and make its racing debut at Silverstone Circuit in the U.K. on April 12 before running the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. We'll have to wait until then to find out if Nissan's radical design can compete against the mid-engine hybrid prototypes of Audi, Porsche, and Toyota.

Source: Nissan

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