Radical vs tried and tested
Nissan to emulate Audi with its any- wheel- drive LMP1 for the 2015 Endurance Championship
WHEN Audi introduced its radical quattro drivetrain to racing in the 1980s, they quickly rewrote all the record books.
Nissan now plans to emulate Audi with its any- wheel- drive contender for the 2015 World Endurance Championship, which includes the prestigious 24 hours of Le Mans.
Nissan showed its radical race car to the world at the opening of America’s Super Bowl season.
To fit in the power of all 2 000 horses they were aiming for at the start of the design, the Japanese engineers had thrown away the rule book for this one. The traditional mid- engined, rearwheel drive lay- out simply cannot put down such power.
At the end, neither could the LMP1’ s front- engined all- wheel drive layout, as the horsepower is now reduced to a still hefty team of 1 250 horses, which translates to over 930 kW, all of which can be released like a stick of exploding dynamite.
Autosport quotes the British technical director of the GT- R LM project Ben Bowlby as saying the car’s front- axle kinetic hybrid system allows the driver to make the most of the energy retrieved from the three- litre twin- turbo V6 and flywheels
“It’s all about how fast you release the energy — think about a stick of dynamite,” he said.
“We want to release the energy very quickly to get the car back up to speed very quickly because it’s nice to spend lots of time at high speed.
“The key is to store the energy and then release it very quickly and that’s what makes our system very competitive, providing us with a good amount of power from the ERS, which we can add to the internal combustion engine’s driving power.”
The power comes from a twin- turbo- charged 3,0- litre V6 working in conjunction with an electric drive system.
To put all that power down the front tyres are made wider five inches wider than the nine- inch rear tyres.
The front- mounted engine and gear box push the cabin far back, so that the exhaust outlets emerge in front of the windscreen. It remains to be seen whether the flames that belch from any high- revving engine when not under load will blind the racer or thrill the fans.
Under the driver’s feet a Kinetic Energy Recovery System, ( Kers) captures and sends the car’s momentum through a collection of reduction gears to a weighted flywheel.
Kers- systems normally convert the kinetic energy to electricity, storing it in a battery or capacitor, but Nissan said its flywheel hybrid system saves the dead- weight of batteries and can release the energy quicker.
Bowlby told Road and Track another trick up the LMP1’ s air intakes is just that — the air intakes. Instead of having the air go in and vent over the front wheels to be forced around the car as is the case in mid- engined cars, the air just rushes straight through the LMP1. This dramatically improves the threemetre long car’s ability to slip through the wall of air that dams up in front of a speeding car while also reducing its fuel consumption.
Nissan global head of marketing and brand strategy Roel de Vries said while they will be the rookies at Le Mans and respect the likes of Audi as “the best in the world” Nissan is nevertheless ready to take them on with its radical race car.
“This is innovation that excites,” said Shoichi Miyatani, president of Nismo, Nissan’s motorsports and performance division. “Sustainability is at the top of our agenda and the technical regulations for Le Mans give us the freedom to pursue new ideas in this area. Our record at Le Mans is third place overall so we have unfinished business there. We want to win and we have the knowledge to do that — for our customers, our employees and our fans. The competition is exceptionally strong and we are excited by the challenge.”
Whether all the innovation will triumph over the tried and tested only time will tell, and this writer for one has his alarm set for 4 pm on June 13, when the LMP1 gets its classic test against the petrol Porsche and diesel Audi racers at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France.
The elements of the Nissan attack: a carbon fibre body, hollow flanks, a tiny but powerful V6 and a flywheel that can send explosive power to any or all four wheels.