Nismo makes Le Mans more in­ter­est­ing with a gam­ble on down­force

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

HAV­ING lost more ar­gu­ments with pave­ments than I have won in un­der­steer­ing, front-en­gined road cars, I am watch­ing with keen in­ter­est the ex­per­i­ment by Nis­san to re­write the de­sign book for rac­ers in their Nismo LM P1.

The team prin­ci­pal and tech­ni­cal direc­tor of Nismo, Ben Bowlby said the car will be a first in the Le Mans en­durance race, where it is to date “unique” for front wheel drive to at­tempt a win.

Tra­di­tion­ally, rac­ers use the mo­men­tum from the weight of an over­steer­ing rear-en­gined car to push through a cor­ner, but Bowlby pre­dicts Nismo would be able to, well, just bowl by the com­peti­tors us­ing the proven benefits of a front en­gine’s weight on a straight, with the added ad­van­tage of the down­force from the big­ger body in the cor­ners.

Jann Mar­den­bor­ough, the 2011 GT Academy win­ner and now LM 1 driver, said the long bon­net above Nismo’s fron­twheel, front-en­gined ap­proach will give them ex­tra down­force to through cor­ners faster and a cou­ple of mile faster along Le Man’s long straights.

“The straights at Le Man is very long, you can gain a lot of time be­ing a cou­ple of miles an hour faster than the op­po­si­tion,” said Mar­den­bor­ough.

To over­come the un­der­steer is the rea­son why other cars do not put a big block in the front of a 500 plus horse­power car.

“We are cer­tainly push­ing on the bound­aries of peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions and be­liefs of what a Le Man car is and what can be fast.”

If the Nismo team are right, the GT-R LM will take the race to the limit against the Porsche 919 Hy­brid and Audi R18 e-tron come June 13 and 14.

If they are wrong, the rac­ing fra­ter­nity re­mains grate­ful to Nis­san for not just push­ing the bound­aries, but mak­ing rac­ing in­ter­est­ing.


The Nismo team (left) hopes gad­getry and a lot of down­force on GT-R LM will pre­vent the typ­i­cal re­sults of un­der­steer (be­low).

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