Nissan’s domination of the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class continued as the FIA (International Automobile Federation) World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the European Le Mans Series kicked off their 2016 seasons with pre-season testing at Circuit Paul Ricard last week.
Nissan has powered the winner of the LMP2 class at Le Mans in four of the past five years including the past three in succession. Nismo’s results in the FIA World Endurance Championship have mirrored that success.
In the European Le Mans Series (ELMS), Nissan has won the championship every year since the debut of the Nissan VK45DE 4.5-liter V8 engine in 2011.
At last week’s FIA WEC Prologue on March 26 to 27, the Signatech Alpine finished the week with the fastest time, stopping the clocks at 1:46.974. In total, the 10 Nissan-powered teams completed a total of 2,204 laps – more than 12,763 kilometers around the Paul Ricard circuit.
Five different Nissan-powered chassis were on track at the test including the Oreca 05, Alpine A460, Gibson 015S, BR01 and Ligier JS P2 with three – the Oreca, Alpine and Gibson topping the times in one at least one of the five sessions. New teams introduced to Nissan power for the first time included the Tequila Patrón ESM squad, which won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring in the United States; Manor, which is entering the FIA WEC for the first time; and new international teams Baxi DC Racing, which is the first ever FIA WEC team from China (whose ownership group includes legendary actor Jackie Chan), and RGR Sport by Morand, the Mexican squad run by driver Ricardo Gonzalez whose team-mates include ex-Formula One driver Bruno Senna.
In the ELMS test on March 23 to 24, Krohn Racing recorded the fastest time of the week (1:48.100) with renowned LM P2 star Olivier Pla at the wheel.
Pla will join forces with team owner Tracy Krohn and Nic Johnsson aboard their Greaves Motorsport-run Ligier in 2016.
Nissan dominated all-five sessions with Thiriet By TDS Racing leading three of the five sessions overall including both sessions on the second day.
Nismo athlete Sir Chris Hoy completed more LMP2 laps at the test – this time aboard the Algarve Pro Racing Ligier. Renault-Nissan Alliance athlete Andrea Pizzitola also drove the No.25 Ligier at Paul Ricard last week.
In the all-Nissan-powered LM P3 ranks, the 21-strong field was led by second- generation star Alex Brundle aboard his United Autosports Ligier.
Teams from both the FIA WEC and ELMS will now set their sights on the opening rounds of their respective championships at Silverstone on April 17 and 18.
Super GT testing
Nissan’s strong pre-season performances in Super GT testing continued last weekend as the brand aims to repeat its GT500 and GT300 championship-winning performances from 2015.
In GT500, the No.12 Calsonic Impul GT-R of Hironobu Yasuda and JP de Oliveira topped the timesheet on day two of the test and set the second fastest overall time of the test at Fuji Speedway.
GT-Rs were second, eighth, ninth and 12th on the opening day of testing on March 26 and backed that up with first, fifth, sixth and 13th on day two.
In GT300 former GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough continued to shine aboard the B-Max NDDP GT-R teamed with Kazuki Hoshino.
Mardenborough recorded the fastest time of the weekend on day one with a lap of 1:36.151, and the No.3 car was quick again on day two – second fastest overall on the day.
“We had a great test at Fuji and came away with the fastest time in GT300 set on the opening day,” said Mardenborough. “On the second day we focused a lot on long runs, race set up and also practicing pit stops but we were still second fastest on the day. We learnt a lot about the car over the two days, and I am also starting to feel a lot more comfortable. Everything has really gone to plan with no damage and no off-track excursions either. We did a lot of kilometers over the two days and it feels really good to come away with the fastest time. It certainly is a busy pre-season. Next step for me is to head to Okayama on Tuesday for some more Formula 3 testing.”