Chassis Carbon fibre
|Designer(s) Ben Bowlby|
|Category Le Mans Prototype 1 Hybrid|
Suspension (front) Independent multi-link pushrods
Suspension (rear) Independent multi-link pushrods with hydraulic anti-roll bar
The Nissan GT-R LM Nismo was a sports prototype racing car built by the Nissan Motor Company and their motorsports division Nismo. Designed for the Le Mans Prototype 1 Hybrid (LMP1-H) regulations of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the GT-R LM was unique amongst Le Mans Prototypes at the time for utilizing a front mid-engine layout for its internal combustion engine as opposed to the rear mid-engine layout used by nearly all other competitors in the category. It was Nissan's first prototype since the R391 competed in 1999, although the company had supplied engines in recent years. The car was branded after the Nissan GT-R road car and shares similar engine and drivetrain configurations, but is not related to the sports car. The GT-R LM Nismo program was announced on 23 May 2014, while the car was publicly shown for the first time in a Nissan commercial during Super Bowl XLIX on 1 February 2015. The car was retired from competition at the end of 2015 after having competed in only one race.
Chief designer Ben Bowlby was given the brief from Nissan to not design an "Audi copy". Bowlby placed the GT-R LM's combustion engine in front of the cockpit, a layout that has not been used in Le Mans prototypes since the Panoz LMP01 Evo in 2003. Unlike the Panoz's rear-wheel drive powertrain, the GT-R LM powers the front axle through a gearbox located in front of the engine.
The engine, co-developed by Nissan and Cosworth, is a 3.0 L (180 cu in) 60-degree V6 with dual turbochargers and direct injection, and is seen by Nissan as the most fuel efficient design. Behind the engine and beneath the cockpit is a kinetic energy recovery system using two flywheels developed by Torotrak. The flywheels gain energy from the use of the front brakes then discharges that energy back to the front wheels via a driveshaft running over the top of the combustion engine. The flywheels can also output power to a secondary driveshaft which is connected to a limited-slip differential at the rear of the car which feeds epicyclic gearboxes located in each rear wheel hub, allowing the GT-R to be all-wheel drive if necessary. The combustion engine outputs approximately 500 hp (370 kW; 510 PS) while the flywheel system is intended to have an additional output of approximately 750 hp (560 kW; 760 PS).
With the weight bias of the GT-R LM heavier in the front and power primarily directed at the front axle, the wheels are offset to balance the car. Tyres in the front are 14 in (360 mm) wide, while the rear tyres are only 9 in (230 mm) wide. Cooling for the engine, gearbox, and flywheel systems is located in the nose of the car, allowing the bodywork around the cockpit to be utilized as airflow tunnels. The use of the tunnels required the turbochargers to be placed on top of the engine, exhausting out the top of the bodywork in front of the windshield. The rear drivetrain is designed without traditional halfshafts that would be required to traverse the tunnels, opting instead for the epicyclic gearing system to work around the tunnels.
Nissan intended to enter two GT-R LM's in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship starting in April 2015, while a third car would be entered for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team was based in Indianapolis, Indiana, while the first test of the car took place at Nissan's testing grounds in Arizona. Later testing took place at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Initially planned for a launch in Europe, Nissan North America chose instead to integrate the new car into their Super Bowl commercial, and the film was made during the GT-R LM's testing at Circuit of the Americas.
Former Le Mans winner Marc Gené was the first driver announced for the program, moving to the team from rivals Audi. Harry Tincknell, who won the LMP2 category at Le Mans in 2014, joined former European Le Mans Series champion Olivier Pla and defending Super GT champion Tsugio Matsuda as the next set of drivers. Jann Mardenborough and Lucas Ordóñez, former winners of Nissan's GT Academy were also announced alongside former FIA GT1 World Champion Michael Krumm.
The car underwent further testing after Le Mans at NOLA Motorsports Park in December 2015 before the program was officially cancelled on 22 December. A second-generation GT-R LM Nismo had been designed for 2016, adapted to run an electrical hybrid system, but was never completed before the project ended.
The GT-R LM made its virtual debut in Gran Turismo 6 as downloadable content for the 2015 GT Academy competition.