Several changes are afoot for next season. For starters, while the prototype only competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, Nissan says it "will return to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2016" – of which Le Mans is just part. It isn't saying how many of the races it will contest, exactly, but the calendar currently consists of nine events: Silverstone, Spa, Le Mans, the Nürburgring, Mexico City, Texas, Fuji, Shanghai, and Bahrain. Hopefully we'll be seeing the Nissan team at all nine events, especially the one at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, where it can be seen undergoing testing in the fresh and massive image gallery above.
Schedules aside, Nissan has appointed a new principal to run the team. Brought in "to share the heavy load on Ben Bowlby's shoulders" will be Mike Carcamo, who moves from his job at Nissan Mexico to serve as the WEC team principal. Outgoing principal Bowlby does, however, appear to be staying on in an as-yet undisclosed capacity.
Finally, Nissan says that "multiple changes have been made to the car since Le Mans," and you can bet that's a huge understatement. We won't know what those changes constitute, exactly, but the automaker is certainly hoping that they'll prove enough to make the car competitive. In its debut at Le Mans this year, two of the three cars failed to finish, and the third wasn't classified since it didn't cover enough distance.
Nissan's innovative LM P1 racer to complete test programme before returning to WEC
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - 1 October 2015: Nissan today announced that the innovative Nissan GT-R LM NISMO will return to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2016. The team has been working hard to address the technical issues faced at Le Mans in June and is in the middle of a comprehensive test and development programme to prepare the new car to race against the tough competition it faces in the LM P1 class.
As part of the development programme a recruitment drive has taken place to provide the race team with additional expertise and support, including the appointment of Michael Carcamo who has transferred from Nissan Mexico to NISMO to share the heavy load on Ben Bowlby's shoulders. Mike Carcamo takes the role of Team Principal, a position previously filled by Bowlby.
"Ben had his hands full trying to do everything; managing the design and build but also the race and test operation," explained Carcamo. "That's a lot to ask anyone to do, especially with a concept that requires this level of development. My knowledge of Nissan engineering processes and project planning experience will help Ben and the team concentrate on making the car deliver on it's promise. The challenge that we took on was a monumental task. We have to learn all of the dynamics of this new vehicle and all the performance tuning so it takes a long time to find the sweet spot of performance. We recognise that challenge and we've added the resources and infrastructure behind the programme to try and bring it to that next level."
Multiple changes have been made to the car since Le Mans but the original design principles remain. The team completed a two-day test at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas last week with Harry Tincknell and Olivier Pla at the wheel
Although running without KERS and new bespoke tyre specifications that are being developed from the knowledge gained from Le Mans by Michelin, the car went significantly faster than it previously had at COTA and did not experience any significant reliability issues.
"We are committed to competing at the highest level and we are not happy when we are not winning," said Shoichi Miyatani, NISMO President. "Let's not forget that while we have been pushing forward with the LM P1 challenge we have won the Blancpain Pro Cup Drivers title in Europe with the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 and are on target for another great year of success in GT500 in Japan. Racing is a vital part of our DNA and we will work to get this right."
Darren Cox, Global Head of Brand, Marketing and Sales, NISMO, added: "The welcome addition of Mike to the race team as we develop the car further, means that we are now well placed to address the technical issues we have faced. We keep our sights firmly set on 2016 and we are confident that with Mike's project management support, Ben and the team can reach the performance levels we expect here at Nissan, by focusing on the on track goals."