With the Le Mans 24 hour race just around the corner, teams are preparing their cars for an onslaught like no other. In the words of famed McLaren designer Gordon Murray who knows a thing or two about both Formula One and endurance racing at Le Mans,
“Le Mans is like doing an entire season of Formula One in a single day.”
Such is the distance covered by the cars, reliability and endurance of the team and drivers are put to extreme limits. Although the race gets precious little coverage here in the UK, it is perhaps the most respected of all races amongst the motorsport world.
Gone are the days of cars crashing and tragically killing both driver and spectators, nowadays it is not solely adequate to be fast alone. Instead, cars must adhere to strict safety guidelines which help ensure drivers safety.
The innovative and highly interesting ‘Garage 56’ entrant this year is Nissan’s ZEOD RC which will be the first car at Le Mans to drive an entire lap on electric power alone. For it’s other laps, the ZEOD RC uses power from a tiny three cylinder internal combustion engine which allows the car to reach the end of it’s stint (approximately 12 laps) before then repeating the process with an electric only lap again at the start of the next stint.
The carbon fibre tub is unique to Nissan’s design and continues where the DeltaWing concept left off. It features a surprisingly narrow front end which, on appearance alone, looks less strong than a conventional looking car. However, it is perhaps more similar to the nose cone you might find on a Formula One car and the crash tests conducted by the FIA on the Nissan prove as much. The chassis is incredibly strong and there is almost no distortion to the body whatsoever as you can see in the video – a truly impressive feat that is sure to give confidence to the team’s drivers.
The ZEOD RC program is being used as a development platform for Nissan’s planned LM P1 class debut in 2015 where it will be taking on the likes of Porsche, Audi and Toyota who will be battling alongside the ZEOD RC, albeit this year in a different class.
Three-time Japanese Super GT champion Satoshi Motoyama will join Nissan GT Academy winners Lucas Ordóñez and Wolfgang Reip as the driver line-up for the revolutionary electric Nissan ZEOD RC at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.