Rumors on Nissan LMP1 Program

While Audi, Porsche and Toyota resumes action next month at Circuit of The Americas for the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, Nissan is working to finalize the pieces of its factory LMP1 program, including the driver lineup.

The Japanese manufacturer has remained quiet on the progress of its GT-R LM NISMO since the 24 Hours of Le Mans, although having previously stated that it has opted for an out-of-the-box approach on the design of the prototype.

Rumors have run rampant from the car being front-engined or even a six-wheel design, although neither have been confirmed. A six-wheel car, for instance, is not legal in the 2014 LMP1 regulations.

As previously reported by Sportscar365, the car is believed to being built at Dan Gurney’s AAR shop in California, under the guidance of former DeltaWing designer Ben Bowlby.

Ex-Panther Racing general manager Chris Mower, meanwhile, is understood to be serving as team manager, with the program having a North American base in Indianapolis.

There has also yet to be any confirmation on the driver lineup, although a number of names have made the rounds from multiple industry sources in recent weeks.

French publication Auto Hebdo reported that Nick Heidfeld and Olivier Pla are in contention for seats, while current Toyota factory driver Stephane Sarrazin has also reportedly been in the mix.

Additionally, it’s believed that Benoit Treluyer, Sebastien Buemi and IndyCar stars Simon Pagenaud and Sebastien Bourdais have also been approached by the manufacturer.

Nissan’s Darren Cox previously told Sportscar365 they would be looking for some experienced LMP1 drivers to fill the lineup but would not go into details.
There is a safe bet, however, that at least one GT Academy driver will be part of the lineup in some capacity, with Jann Mardenborough appearing to be in pole position.

As for drivers from Japan, Tsugio Matsuda, Ronnie Quintarelli and Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira are also understood to be options as well. All three currently compete for the manufacturer in Super GT.

Nissan plans to field two cars for the entire FIA WEC season next year, with three expected to take part at Le Mans.

On-track testing is scheduled to begin in October. sportscar365

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