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Signature Nissan LMP2 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Could this be the first encouraging sign of Japanese automakers returning for international motor racing? The past few years saw such giants as Toyota and Honda pulling out of Formula One and Subaru withdrawing from the World Rally Championship – their places taken up by rivals from outside Japan and independent privateer teams. But now Nissan has announced plans to return to Le Mans and its associated series with a new LMP2 program.

The effort involves Nissan providing Nismo-tuned VK45V8 engines to Signature. The French racing team will be running the engines in an LMP2 prototype in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, including the headline 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as Sebring. Although the driver lineup isn't due to be announced for a few weeks yet, the team has already retained Formula 3 driver Franck Mailleux for the job.

Nissan and Signature aim to finish at Le Mans and hopefully score a podium finish sometime during the season. To check out the computer renderings of the car with which they hope to do so, click the thumbnails below to skip to our high-resolution image gallery, and scope out the official announcement after the jump.

[Source: Nissan]
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Japanese Car Giant to Supply Engines to Top LMS RacingTeam

Rolle, February 9th 2011– Nissan International SA announced today an exclusive two-year official partnership with Signature Racing, part of the France-based Signature Group. The agreement brings together Nissan and Signature on the race track in the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC), with Nissan providing the team its NISMO tuned VK45V8 engines for the LMP2 class.

Nissan's heritage of technical innovation and excellence finds a natural place in the arena of International Motorsports where the company has a rich history of competition spanning over 70 years and encompassing everything from International rallying to Touring Cars, Le Mans, the Daytona 24 hours and the FIA GT1 championship.

Announcing the new agreement, Vincent Wijnen, Nissan Vice-President, Strategy and Marketing, said "Nissan is very happy to announce our new partnership with Signature and we look forward to working with such a professional and well respected team. I know our customers, fans and dealers will be following our progress when we start racing in March and will of course be anticipating our return to the Le Mans 24 hours."

Beginning with their first race under the banner of 'Signatech Nissan' in the ILMC on March 19th in Sebring, USA, the Signature Racing team will be powered for the first time by Nissan's engines.

Philippe Sinault, CEO of Signature Group, added "We are delighted to team-up with such an innovative car manufacturer. Nissan's engine know how will be crucial to the overall performance of the car, and we are sure this partnership will be hugely successful."

Although the official race car livery and full driver line-up for the new season will be announced over the coming weeks, F3 star Franck Mailleux has been confirmed for the ILMC and Le Mans24 Hours.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I dont even know what Calsonic is, but it's missing it and it should be blue.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Calsonic is a manufacturing company, for car parts I think. They make the motor controller (inverter) for the Nissan Leaf!

        They must be in Nissan's Keiretsu because Nissan seems to have a long-term relationship with them and Nissan in fact likes to say the motor controller for the Leaf is made in-house when it is in fact made by Calsonic (as seen in Nissan's own Leaf video).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mainly a radiator/AC company , they make a lot of Nissan parts... mainly the entirecarbon fiber front-clip on the GT-R.


      • 4 Years Ago
      WOOT WOOT!! Brings back memories of Nissans other race cars. Getting goose bumps thinking about the RC90,R92CP and R390 GT1.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Its livery needs to be red, white, and blue.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Uhh... Honda has been in prototype racing for a little while now and actually make their own chassis too. :p
        • 4 Years Ago
        Rambling Man: The base chassis' yes, but they turned 'em into quite the monsters...
        • 4 Years Ago
        This looks like a reskinned Courage also.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's a shame that the prototype has been evolved to the point of (aerodynamic) perfection. There is almost no differentiation between the different makes anymore... I'm actually impressed what Audi has done with their prototypes from a design perspective.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Technically, Honda's LMPs are just reskinned Courage LC75s.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I was just thinking earlier today how awesome it would be for Nissan to get back into higher motorsport such as Le Mans or F1 and was pleasantly surprised with this article!

      Also, I think that fin in the back might be a copy of the "shark fin" from F1 cars to help direct air flow to the rear wing. Just a speculation though.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hate the new advertising fin.

      Otherwise, great to see Nissan in play. Looking forward to Sebring.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Pretty sure it's for lateral stabilization under high yaw angles (turn-in). The fin puts the lateral center of pressure behind the CG, which reduces oversteer.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The old IMSA GTP Nissans are some of my favorite cars of all time! While the fin thing is ugly, I think part of its purpose is to help prevent the car from taking flight if it gets sideways. I could be completely off on that though....
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ jason

        the shark fin is an ACO mandated part to prevent high speed flips when the car goes sideways. it looked better on F1 cars......
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is good news. I hope they're competitive.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't think Nissan can be competitive w/o a diesel.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You do realize this isn't running in LMP1, right?
      • 4 Years Ago
      YYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GOD HAS RETURNED TO RACING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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