Nissan has announced it will return to premier sportscar racing in 2015 with a full-factory assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race and the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Though the manufacturer has had a sporadic involvement in sportscar racing in recent times, this announcement will see it go head-to-head with factory rivals Audi, Porsche and Toyota in the growing LMP1 category of Le Mans and WEC.
To be named Nissan GT-R LM NISMO in a nod to both its road car range and its performance line, Nissan will enter a pair of LMP1 machines from 2015 for a full season of World Endurance Championship racing, as well as contest the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours.
The announcement comes following Nissan's efforts in recent years to develop a unique presence in motorsport, from the 'Garage 56' ZEOD RC prototype initiative – which will see it attempt a lap of Le Mans using only battery power next month – to its title backing of Red Bull Racing in F1 (via its premium Infiniti brand) and its GT Academy, which has enabled 'armchair racers' to enjoy significant success in motorsport.
For NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani, Nissan's return to Le Mans for the first time since the 1990s represents an opportunity to complete some 'unfinished business'.
“The design and build of the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO is a global project with its DNA firmly rooted in Japan,” explained Miyatani. “The team comprises engineers and technical crew from Japan, the US and Europe. We know that LM P1 competition is very tough, with serious manufacturer competition, but we are absolutely determined to make our cars competitive and to operate strongly against those competitors.
“We have chosen to take the GT-R name to Le Mans as the GT-R symbolizes the ultimate in Nissan's performance. It is a true aspirational brand; a car our fans, our customers love to drive, and love to own. We have been using GT-R in motorsport for many years now, in Super GT and GT3. For us LM P1 is the ultimate test. We have unfinished business at Le Mans and now we have our chance to target victory with the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.”
Nissan has strengthened its presence in motorsport in recent years, most notably in GT racing with the GT-R, with this year's official British GT entrant raced by Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy.
It is also competing in the V8 Supercar series, while Nissan-engined machines dominate the 2014 Le Mans LMP2 entry list.