Nissan’s weird, wonderful and long-nosed LMP1-class Le Mans prototype still just isn’t there on pace, so the team is opting to hold off on racing until they’re happy with it. That means focusing on testing and skipping the World Endurance Championship races in the meantime.
The WEC heads to the Nürburgring at the end of this month, but in the heat of testing, that’s just too long for the team to spare. They’re still trying to shake down issues that plagued them at Le Mans, such as the faulty energy recovery system.
“Being based in the U.S., that’s a fly-in race for us, and we’d lose the cars for three and a half weeks,” NISMO Global Head of Brand, Sales and Marketing Darren Cox said in a phone interview.
So, instead of flying the cars over only to discover that they’re still unhappy with them at the Nürburgring, they’re opting to put them back into full-time development.
“It’s not one thing, but multiple things,” said Cox, when asked about which items were the biggest focus right now.
Cox said they made huge strides with the suspension and aerodynamics in testing at Circuit of the Americas last month, plus they’re starting to work towards the 2016 car’s improved (and hopefully functional) energy recovery system. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 and the aerodynamics were the car’s biggest strengths at Le Mans, so their goal now is to get the entire package working well.
“We have many areas to work on, not least ensuring that we have the best ERS option available to us,” explained LMP1 Technical Director Ben Bowlby in a press release this morning. “The team is pushing hard on track, in the wind tunnel and at NISMO’s various facilities around the world to deliver the long list of improvements we know that we need.”
NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani had this to say of the decision in the team’s press release:
We know people will be disappointed but be assured that nobody is more disappointed than us. We are racers and we want to compete but we also want to be competitive. That is why we have chosen to continue our test programme and prepare the GT-R LM NISMO for the strong competition we face in the World Endurance Championship. When you innovate you don’t give up at the first hurdle. We are committed to overcoming this challenge.
Pulling the car from competition for a while also means that they have unlimited testing time until they’re officially back in the season as well.
“We’ve said it before, but innovation hurts,” said Cox of the car’s progress in the same release. Cox stressed that the worldwide interest in their unique car is part of what pushes them to make the car competitive, and that the team will remain open about their progress to the media, as they have been.
According to Cox, the cars are sitting in Indianapolis at the moment, but Nismo is still going on with business as usual with all of their other racing programs, with a Super GT race on the schedule for this weekend and 36 competitors being put through their paces right now for this year’s GT Academy. Only the LMP1 is being put on hold for now.
This isn’t the first time the LMP1 has held off on racing to fit in more development work. Earlier this year, they skipped the first two WEC rounds to focus on getting the car ready for Le Mans. After Le Mans proved that the car wasn’t quite ready then, either, it was time to get back to work.
Photo credit: Nismo
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