Nissan Scraps Le Mans Program, Kills Oddball GT-R LM
The weird, front-engine LMP1 racecar is dead.
After a poor initial showing this past season, Nissan has announced that it won't be returning to the LMP1 class next year with the innovative, flawed GT-R LM Nismo.
The Japanese automaker hit the endurance racing grid last season trying to exploit a loophole in the regulations with a radical front-engine/front-drive layout, while its rivals put everything in the back. The idea was that it would allow better aerodynamics, with more downforce over the driven wheels and cleaner airflow at the rear. Unfortunately the gamble didn't pay off: Nissan fielded three cars at Le Mans alone (but not at the other seven races in the championship), and none of them made it to the finish line.
Some manufacturers might have chalked it up to teething problems, but Nissan immediately put the entire program under review. After some delay, it announced it would enter the prototype in the series after all – but now it has apparently had a change of heart. According to the statement below, Nissan is withdrawing the forward-thinking prototype from the entire 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship. Nissan UK spokesman Andy Bothwell confirmed that the withdrawal includes Le Mans as well: "The GT-R LM NISMO will not compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours," Bothwell wrote to Autoblog via email. "However, Nissan's commitment to its motorsport programmes on a global level remains as strong as ever."
The manufacturer will continue competing in other categories, including LMP2 where it powers a large portion of the grid, and the new LMP3 class for which it recently revealed a new engine design. The manufacturer does not compete in the GTE category at Le Mans or its associated series. However its GT-R GT3 continues to compete in the Blancpain Endurance Series, winning the championship in 2013 and one race this past season.
The cancellation of Nissan's LMP1 program will be bad news for the FIA and ACO. The series organizers typically welcome with open arms the arrival of new manufacturers, especially at the front of the grid, and will invariably be disappointed with one's departure. But it will hardly be any sweat off of the backs of Audi, Porsche, or Toyota, which were never really challenged by Nissan's entry, and won't likely be affected one way or another by its departure.
This article originally appeared on Autoblog.