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Nissan ready for Le Mans return
26 February 2013
Nissan is targeting a return to the Le Mans 24 Hours next season, but not just with a car to rival those already on track from former rivals Audi and Toyota.
Instead, the Japanese manufacturer – which helped propel the radical DeltaWing car that debuted in 2012 - is planning a pioneering racer showcasing electric technology in a project to be led by Nismo, Nissan's global motorsport and performance arm.
Company CEO Carlos Ghosn made the pledge to return to Le Mans during the opening of a new headquarters for Nismo in Yokohama. The Frenchman hinted that a new approach to innovation and excitement will be at the project's core, while confirming that the company will return as the 'Garage 56' entry for innovative concepts that it occupied with DeltaWing.
The entry will test innovative new powertrain technology and provide the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and FIA with data to enable all parties to evaluate the incorporation of this breakthrough ahead of a potential return to LMP1 in the future.
"We will return to Le Mans with a vehicle that will act as a high-speed test bed in the harshest of environments for both our road car and race car electric vehicle technology," Ghosn confirmed.
Nissan expects to reveal further details of the new project in the near future, but the prospect of a future LMP1 entry could pitch the marque directly against not only Audi and Toyota, but also Porsche, which is due to join the pair in the top class next year, when new regulations come into force.
Having adopted the creed that 'expansion is key to success' following its return to Australia's V8 Supercars Championship with a four-car entry for 2013, Nissan and Nismo step up their assault on the GT3 and Super GT Series, highlighted by the flagship GT-R GT500. Meanwhile, its GT Academy continues to grow, with the latest graduates to compete in a GT-R in FIA GT Series and Blancpain Endurance Series, and Wales' Jann Mardenborough continuing his impressive rise through the ranks by moving to the crack Carlin F3 team to contest this year's FIA European Championship.
Nismo engines will be used in no fewer than 17 cars at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, the equivalent of a third of the grid, and the highest entry by a manufacturer for 15 years. The Nismo-tuned Nissan VK45DE V8 engine is now firmly established as the powerplant of choice for the majority of the LMP2 teams. All cars will carry the designation 'powered by Nissan Nismo'.
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