Le Mans: Nissan powers to the top of the league

by Fuggles
5 years ago

Nissan will be the dominant force at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, with a quarter of all entries running on Nismo-tuned Nissan power.

Spearheading Nissan’s dominant entry to the famous endurance race, on June 16/17, will be the hugely innovative, experimental racing car – the Nissan DeltaWing – which aims to change the face of motor racing by completing the Le Mans 24 Hours using half the fuel and half the tyre material of a conventional LMP racer.

Leading the charge in the LMP2 class, in which Nismo-produced Nissan units power more than half of the competing cars, are Nissan’s partner teams, Signatech Nissan and Greaves Motorsport.

Among the drivers vying for LMP2 victory this year will be two graduates of Nissan’s unique GT Academy initiative, which has made motorsport careers a reality for Playstation 3 gamers; Lucas Ordonez – who will share his car with ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle – and second GTA champion, Jordan Tresson.

Paul Willcox, Senior Vice President, Nissan in Europe, said:

“This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours will be our biggest yet and the Nissan DeltaWing shows the direction we are looking to take with motorsport technology in the future. We are already dominant in LMP2, where teams know that we can help them win, while the DeltaWing project is the kind of experiment in design and technology that only a company as forward-thinking and bold as Nissan could get behind.

As a test bed for future road car and motorsport innovations, there is no greater, more publicly-scrutinised laboratory than the Le Mans 24 Hours for the experiment that DeltaWing represents, but the concept will prove that the technology for a vastly more efficient future is viable now, whether the car finishes the race or not.”

The Nissan DeltaWing is the most revolutionary car to appear in motorsport for a generation; the aim is to show that it is possible to make huge efficiency savings by downsizing and using a truly innovative aerodynamic package.

Everything about DeltaWing is designed with efficiency in mind – its unique shape has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer, while all parts – including the downsized Nissan 1.6-litre DIG-Turbo engine – are smaller and weigh much less than traditional Le Mans machines. The car is so unique that it competes in the race outside the regulations of Le Mans, wearing the number ‘0′ and running from “Garage 56”, reserved exclusively for experimental racers.

Nissan’s involvement in LMP2 is similarly ground-breaking, thanks to the presence of GT Academy graduates – Spaniard, Ordonez and Frenchman, Tresson.

Winner of the first Nissan GT Academy in 2008, Ordonez finished second in LMP2 at Le Mans in 2011 and this year will race with the Greaves Motorsport team alongside 1990 Le Mans 24 Hour winner and former F1 racer, Martin Brundle and his son Alex.

Also aiming to become the first gamer-turned-racer to win Le Mans outright, Tresson – winner of the second GT Academy in 2010 – joins 2011 Le Mans LMP2 winner, Olivier Lombard and runner-up, Franck Mailleux, at the Signatech team.


 Engine  Nissan 4-cylinder, 1.6-litre DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline Turbo)
 Max power  300bhp at 7400rpm
 Max torque  310 Nm constant from 400 to 6750rpm
 Transmission  5-speed sequential
 Chassis  FIA-homologated carbon fibre monococque
 Front wheels  15″ diameter, 4″ wide
 Rear wheels  15″ diameter, 12.5″ wide
 Front tyres  10/31/15 Michelin
 Rear tyres  310/620/15 Michelin
 Weight  475kg without fuel or driver, 575kg with fuel and driver
 Distribution  28% front, 72% rear
 Length  4.65m
 Front width  0.76m
 Rear width  2.08m
 Wheelbase  3.05m
 Fuel capacity  40 litres
 Bodywork  Carbon composite
 Aerodynamics  Twin cortex underbody downforce system – BLAT (Boundary Layer Adhesion Technology)
 Top speed  315kph
 0-100kph  3.3 seconds
 Fuel consumption  Estimated 230-250gm/kwh

Nissan DeltaWing drivers

Marino Franchitti

Marino Franchitti has had a long and successful career in sportscars. His experience and his history with Highcroft Racing made him the ideal man to drive Nissan DeltaWing.

Michael Krumm

Michael’s career has taken him all over the world but the focus of his racing has been in Japan where he is a NISMO contracted driver. Michael is married to professional tennis player, Kimiko Date-Krumm.

Satoshi Motoyama

Satoshi’s career has been predominately based in his native country, Japan, where he has been multiple champion of Formula Nippon and Super GT. He has also raced for Nissan at Le Mans.


The Nismo-tuned Nissan VK45DE 4.5L naturally-aspirated V8 engine has been supplied to 10 teams for Le Mans, for 13 LMP2 cars.

The engine is an evolution of the VK45DE, which was originally developed for GT500 cars in the Japanese Super GT series and its performance, durability, and reliability are race proven.

In 2011 a Nissan-powered car won every round of the Le Mans Series, along with the Le Mans Series title, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup title and first and second place in the LMP2 class at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

To offer the VK45DE LMP2 engines to privateer teams in Europe and to efficiently provide swift customer support, Nissan has entered into a partnership with Zytek Motorsport Limited and Oreca Magny Cours SAS who assemble the engines precisely to Nissan’s specifications.


 Engine Type  NISSAN VK45DE
 Aluminium block, 90 degree V8, naturally aspirated
 Displacement  4,494cc
 Bore x Stroke  93mm x 82.7mm
 Horsepower  450+HP / 331kW (DIN) with 40.0mm air restrictor
 Torque  58kgf-m / 570N-m (DIN)
 Weight  Approximately 145kg

Greaves Motorsport – Zytek Z11SN Nissan


Alex Brundle

Alex Brundle has competed in both single-seaters and sportscars in recent years. In 2012 he teams up with his father, Martin, to take on the Le Mans 24 Hours. He will also compete in the full European Le Mans Series with Greaves Motorsport.

Martin Brundle

Martin Brundle brings vast experience to the Greaves Motorsport team. He spent a total of nine years in Formula One and has also set pole position at and won the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Lucas Ordonez

Lucas was studying for an MBA when he saw an advertisement for the GT Academy. He entered and won the inaugural competition in 2008 and since then has worked his way up Nissan’s sportscar racing ladder, through FIA GT4 and ILMC before making his Le Mans debut last year, finishing second in LMP2.

Signatech Nissan – Oreca 03 Nissan


Franck Mailleux

Franck actually started his career on two wheels, winning major BMX and mountain-biking championships.  Success followed in single-seaters before his switch to sportscar racing in 2009.

Jordan Tresson

Frenchman Jordan won the second GT Academy in 2010 and has followed Ordonez through the ranks of Nissan’s sportscar racing programme, winning the GT4 class in last year’s Blancpain Endurance Series.

Olivier Lombard

Olivier Lombard burst into the limelight in 2011 when he joined the Greaves Motorsport team and promptly won Le Mans!