Le Mans: Local teams take part in Pre-Test

Nissan GT-R LM Nismo during the Le Mans test
Nissan GT-R LM Nismo during the Le Mans test

The three Silverstone-based Nissan GT-R LM prototype cars made their Le Mans track debut during last Sunday’s Le Mans 24-Hour Race Pre-Test.

The revolutionary front-wheel-drive cars have suffered some issues during their test and development phase, but the Japanese manufacturer was able to place all three of the LMP1 class prototype cars on-track for the test that kick-started preparations for the 2015-running of the world’s most famous motor race.

Although not driving one of the Nissan cars in the race, 2009 Le Mans winner Marc Gene was present at the track as the team’s driver coach and brand ambassador, and he said: “The three cars all performed well during the test. The most important thing was to establish how the car handles the difficulties that the Le Mans track offers.

“Initial data shows that the car, although not as fast as other LMP1 cars in outright lap times, does have superb straightline pace.

“Jann Mardenborough was the fastest car in the speed traps and that shows that the project is heading in the right direction for this race and for future competition in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

“The next time the three cars will be on the circuit will be during the the first practice session for the race itself. Let’s hope that everything goes well then.”

Brackley’s Anthony Davidson ended the Pre-Test in the seventh fastest car on a day that saw the top two places locked out by Mark Webber’s Porsche 919-Hybrid team. Davidson said: “The pace is pretty hot on the track this year and I think we are all in for a very exciting event. Qualifying is pretty important, as every manufacturer would like their car at the front for the start of the race.”

The Murphy Prototypes team clocked the fastest time in the LMP2 category during the Pre-Test with their Oreca 03-Nissan. Driven by Karun Chandhok, Mark Patterson and Nathanael Berthon, the Brackley-based team were more than happy with their performance at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Greg Murphy, the team’s owner, said: “This is the best possible boost for us ahead of the race week. We didn’t have much luck in the race last year, and this year we want to win!” JB