Nissan will be heading to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, with what we believe to be a reveal of their new race car set for the Super Bowl. We can't wait that long, so here's our exclusive early look at what the new Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, aka Nissan's new LMP1 car, will look like.
The rumors of a front-mid-engined, hybrid Nissan LMP1 as explained by Mulsanne's Corner appear to be true, at least if these renders based on information provided by people who have seen seen the car are real (and we think they are). The car obviously sports a longer snout than most other LMP1-class World Endurance Championship cars. The last front-engined Le Mans prototypes were the Panoz LMP1 and LMP07 that last ran in the early 2000s, if you were curious.
The idea of a front-mid-engined car have given rise to all kinds of interesting packaging rumors with this car. Some have suggested that the rear tires are narrower than the front, and that the whole front of the car is wider than the back. Considering that all the airflow to the engine would be taken care of up front instead of funneled to an engine behind the cabin, that may make some sense.
This also means the engine is where the under-floor front wing would usually go. Clear air usually goes underneath the car on LMP1s to the back, where it shoots out the rear wing and diffuser, sucking the entire race car to the ground. No airflow coming through a front wing to the back would give it a huge disadvantage to the other LMP1s unless some of the crazier rumors about using engine heat for a blown diffuser are true.
After all, many of the same designers who were involved with the DeltaWing are working on this LMP1, so they're no stranger to interesting packaging solutions on a prototype race car. Ben Bowlby, who brought us that big rolling arrowhead of a car, is offering his guidance on this LMP1's design as well.
If we're talking about crazy rumors, though, our favorite comes via Michael J. Fuller at Mulsanne's Corner. Nissan may be running Cosworth's unraced V6 Formula One engine, with approximately 600 hp for the engine itself and over 1,000 hp for the entire hybrid system, which will include a kinetic energy recovery system developed by Torotrak. Of course, this wouldn't be the first time Nissan brought a car with four-digit horsepower to Le Mans, either.
Clearly, the GT-R LM moniker means that Nissan wants to tie this LMP1 into their road car program. Either way, our money is on a gas-powered turbocharged V6, at most 2.0 liters in displacement. We expect it to have twin turbos to match the roadgoing GT-R and a powerful hybrid all-wheel drive system. [Edit: We originally stated that the hybrid system could not power the front wheels below 120 KPH, but that regulation has been removed, per the FIA.]
There have been rumors that the street GT-R could go hybrid as well, but for all we know, the mystery badges spotted in August could be for this race car instead. However, it would be a powerful source of cross-promotion if the street car went hybrid shortly after this Le Mans racer was revealed, so we expect to see a hybrid GT-R road car soon.
Nissan has been testing their LMP1 racer at the Nissan Technical Center in Arizona and the technical details on the new car have been wrapped up like Fort Knox. But apparently Fort Knox has sprung a leak.
When the car debuts on Super Bowl Sunday, don't be surprised to find something that looks a lot like this.
Illustration: Jason Torchinsky