Two former winners of Nissan's PlayStation GT Academy programme will feature in the firm's driver line-up for the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours, it has been confirmed.
Wolfgang Reip will join Lucas Ordonez in driving the unique ZEOD RC prototype, which will occupy 'Garage 56' at Le Mans, an entry reserved for cars demonstrating new and innovative technology.
Reip succeeded in Nissan 2012 edition of the GT Academy competition, which aims to give amateur racers a chance to progress from virtual racing on Gran Turismo to real-life racing.
Since then, Reip made his racing debut during the 2013 Dubai 24 Hours and was selected to compete with Nissan in the Blancpain Endurance Series, where he proved impressive as a rookie. He has also been a podium winner at World Endurance Championship level with the Greaves Motorsport LMP2 team.
“All my life I have been dreaming about this race,” he said. I had the chance to visit as a spectator in the past couple of years and now to be able to drive on the track in the Nissan ZEOD RC is just incredible. I've already had the chance to test the ZEOD RC and it is something completely different to anything I've driven before. No one has tackled this type of challenge before and to be involved in such a project is amazing – I'm really proud to be involved.
“The development of the power train is a really interesting project. I have learned a great deal on technical side of things, spending time with the engineers and the team. As a driver it is extremely useful for me to learn more about the technical side, especially for such a unique project.
“Driving down the Mulsanne Straight at 300km/h in virtual silence will be something very special. Nobody has done it before and I really can't imagine what it is going to feel like.”
The Nissan ZEOD RC uses a pair of electric motors that will push the car at speeds in excess of 300km/h for a complete lap of Le Mans – the first car to complete this goal in the race's history.
A revolutionary 40kg/400 horsepower 3-cylinder turbo engine will accompany the electric motors. The car's battery will be charged by regenerative braking during each fuel stint with the electric motors taking over for one lap for each tank of fuel.
Nissan has already announced its plans to return to the top flight of endurance racing in 2015 with a brand-new LMP1 machine based around the foundations developed by the ZEOD RC racer.