Nissan LM P2 racer at Sebring - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
Nissan is ruling out an LMP1 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) for the 2012 season - and likely beyond - sticking with the production-based LMP2 entries that dominated last year's Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series that begat the WEC. With the new season, and the first for WEC, beginning next week at Sebring International Raceway, NIssan is preparing an assault that hopes to continue the great results it saw last year.
During this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, Nissan has got 11 of the 18 LMP2 cars that have gained entries for the 80th running of this midsummer classic. They'll be racing against challengers from Honda, Lotus and Judd-engined LMP2 racers both at Le Mans and the other stops on the WEC schedule.
During this week's Geneva Auto Show media days, Nissan's executive vice president of engineering Andy Palmer ruled out taking the brand into the LMP1 category but confirmed the commitment to the production-based engines in LMP2 - he also hinted that there might be other innovative racing projects for Nissan in the nar future.
In a discussion with the UK's Autocar at Geneva, Palmer said, "We've no plans to do LMP1. The hybrid moves in that class are interesting, but there's no link back for us to a diesel hybrid. The rules would have to open up to make petrol hybrid competitive and relevant to make it really interesting."
Toyota are already planning to bring two petrol-powered hybrids to Le Mans this year and the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), governing body of Le Mans are trying to further tinker with the rules to make this type of engine more relevant and competitive.
Nissan will continue its activities in sports car racing, electric car racing and, Palmer said, "something crazy. Whatever we decide to do, we like to win. Look at LMP2, GT3 and Super GT," he said. "The issue is linking that winning back to the brand, which is why we've started our NISMO road car project."
Palmer finds the prospect of electric-powered competition more relevant than hybrid racing, he noted. There are currently eight NISMO RS Leaf racers at this time. "We think the possibilities are very interesting. Zero emission racing could take place indoors or in the heart of a city, so we're looking at that."