When Nissan took the wraps off its GT-R LM NISMO, many questioned why it would make a front engine, front-wheel-drive racecar when the established benchmarks in the endurance game were all using all-wheel drive hybrid setups. With Nissan's release of the full specifications have come some answers about how the company hopes to make its extraordinary creation succeed on endurance racing's biggest stage.
The gasoline component of the GT-R LM Nismo's power setup is made up of a twin-turbo, 60-degree V6 engine codenamed the VRX 30A Nismo, which powers the front wheels via a five-speed pneumatic paddle shift gearbox with a three-plate carbon clutch assembly from Tilton. For even more punch down the long straights at Circuit de la Sarthe, the ICE is augmented by electric power harvested by a KERS system.
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At 4.65 m (15.3 ft) long and 1.9 m (6.2 ft) wide, with a weight of 870 Kg (1,918 lb). Rather than running an exhaust system under the car to the rear or fitting it with side pipes, Nissan has chosen to place the engine's exhaust directly in front of the vehicle's cabin. The side of the car is also used to channel air through tunnels within the carbon-composite bodywork to reduce aero drag.
A Cosworth engine management system is in charge of the car's anti-lag system, fuel-saving "lift and coast" systems and the driver-adjustable traction control system, while stopping power is provided by six-piston front brakes and four-piston rears.
In keeping with its quirky front-wheel drive setup, the Nismo's front tires are actually wider than the rears. Nissan is running a 16-inch rear wheel, with tall-sidewall tires measuring only 9 inches (228.6 mm) wide, which is 5 inches (127 mm) narrower than the tires on the 18-inch front wheels. This unconventional tire geometry combines with multi-adjustable Ohlins dampers up front and Penske dampers at the rear, as well as a hydraulic anti-roll bar system, to hopefully quell the understeer usually associated with front-wheel drive.
Nissan has a history of running crazy concepts on the racetrack. Its DeltaWing was unlike anything we'd seen before, and the GT-R LM Nismo has the potential to change the way we look at endurance racers. By the same token, Nissan's crazy front-wheel-drive experiment may be a huge flop on the big stage. We'll just have to wait until Le Mans next month to see which it turns out to be.
Below is a video from Nissan explaining some of the challenges that come with front-wheel drive.