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2014 Le Mans Return Part Of Nissan’s Expanded Motorsport Program

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1999 Nissan R391 Le Mans prototype

1999 Nissan R391 Le Mans prototype

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Nissan is the latest automaker to announce its participation in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race, confirming today it will enter a “pioneering race car” that incorporates “breakthrough electric technology” in the endurance classic’s ‘Garage 56’ entry for environmentally friendly cars.

At last year’s race, the Nissan-powered DeltaWing was entered as the Garage 56 car and famously crashed out of the race.

Now that it’s ended its partnership with the DeltaWing project, Nissan will enter its own car in Le Mans, initially campaigning 2014’s race.

The entry will test innovative new powertrain technology and provide race organizer Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), as well as motorsports’ governing body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), with data that could possibly lead to the incorporation of the new electric technology in the race regulations.

In addition, Nissan is eyeing a potential return to Le Mans’ top LMP1 category where it would be competing against the likes of Audi, Porsche and Toyota.

Nissan's last bid for overall victory in Le Mans was back in 1999, where it suffered several setbacks with its R391 prototype. One of two cars campaigned crashed during qualifying and the second, despite reaching as high as fourth during the race, had to retire due to electrical problems.

“We will return to Le Mans with a vehicle that will act as a high-speed test bed in the harshest of environments for both our road car and race car electric vehicle technology,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said in a statement.

While it’s not clear what Nissan’s new Le Mans racer will look like, it’s entirely possible that it will be based around the all-electric Leaf Nismo RC race car concept that the automaker has been testing extensively.

Further details will be released as the project progresses.

2012 Nissan Leaf Nismo RC electric race car

2012 Nissan Leaf Nismo RC electric race car

Enlarge Photo
Before then, Nissan’s global motorsports program will continue to expand through 2013 and beyond, and be led by Nismo, which was confirmed today as the Japanese automaker’s exclusive performance and motorsport partner.

Nissan’s other motorsport programs include:

- The continuation of a long term focus on endurance racing led by the GT-R Nismo GT3 race car in the FIA GT Series and the Blancpain Endurance Series.

- The continuation of the GT-R’s campaign in the GT300 and GT500 classes of Japan’s Super GT Series.

- The continuation of the Nissan GT Academy, with latest graduates set to contest the FIA GT Series and Blancpain Endurance Series using GT-R-based race cars.

- A new entry in Australia’s V8 Supercars with an Altima-based race car.

- The supply of Nismo-developed engines to 17 teams competing in Le Mans.
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