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Le Mans 24 Hours: The Year of Return

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May 29 – London – Ready with three GT-R LM Nismo vehicles, nine drivers and ever faster lap times, Nissan begins Le Mans Test Weekend today and its countdown to its return to the LMP1 class at Le Mans 24 Hours, June 13.

Darren Cox, Nissan’s Global Motorsport Chief:

I can’t believe it’s only a year since we launched the program here in London, in May 2014. A huge amount has happened since then. The team has done an amazing job, going from a blank sheet of paper effectively into something that you see behind you here.

Harry Tincknell, NISMO LMP1 Driver, Car #22:

I’ve been with the project since the very start. We started off with just getting the car running and getting laps under our belt and now in the last 3 or 4 tests we’ve really been improving lap time and improving the reliability of the car.

Jann Mardenborough, NISMO LMP1 Driver, Car #23:

To drive it right now it feels great and our testing plan is on schedule so going out to America and driving the car was absolutely fantastic. There’s a lot of power going through the front wheels and each time we go over it and test the car again it’s more refined and the pace is getting faster. And we’re getting more comfortable in the car – all nine of us.

We’re a lot busier as drivers inside the car, we have to manage our fuel – there are a certain number of kilograms we can use per hour.

We have to manage our tires a lot more – there’s a lot more power. With traffic as well, we’re coming up to these GT cars and closing speed around 50km or 60km/hour.

We’ll soon find out at Le Mans test day exactly what it’s going to feel like.

Cox:

We’ve got the test day on the 31st of May, we then have the whole, fantastic process of the Le Mans scrutineering in the middle of the town. We have more practice sessions, qualifying sessions during that week, so the biggest challenge of Le Mans is the Le Mans 365-days, it’s not the Le Mans 24 Hours. People are working on it non-stop.

Max Chilton, NISMO LMP1 driver, Car #23:

From my past experience in racing, this is probably the most bizarre thing I’ve ever driven. But actually when I first heard about it, I thought it would be harder to drive than it actually is. When I got in it, I was pleasantly surprised having all of that power coming out of the front.

I’m one of the few drivers who hasn’t actually ever raced at Le Mans, so it’s going to be busy testing there a few days before. But I think the 24 Hours could be a good surprise.

You’ve got to be in it to win it. There’s no point in sort of going crazily in the first 12 hours, then having a problem. But the exciting thing for the project is that you’ve got drivers of all different capabilities and past backgrounds.

Mardenborough:

Max is very experienced in F1 and he’s a similar age to me, whereas Marco has been racing a long time in GT cars prototypes. He’s got lots of experience in lots of different cars, and working with similar age drivers with similar experiences like Harry and Lucas is fantastic.

So, we bring a lot to the table a lot of different experiences and common ones. It’s great sitting in a debrief room and all nine of us are there to talk about the car and what we feel is best and it’s nice for all of us to agree on one thing, which has happened quite a lot.

Ben Bowlby, British LMP1 Team Principal, Race Car Designer:

Ben Bowlby reveals the special livery of the #21 car

We’ve done the crazy ideas. We’ve done the massive development. We’ve done the ridiculous hours. And we now have something we’re very proud of: Three cars going to Le Mans, nine drivers, and we’ve developed the engines, we’ve developed the tires, we’ve developed through testing all of our set-up strategies – the different steering-wheel layouts that all the drivers require to make it better to drive – so many elements.

And now we just need a flawless execution.

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