Nissan has announced that it will withdraw from the 2016 World Endurance Championship – ending any chance of further competition for its unique front-wheel drive LMP1 car.
Following the car’s difficult debut at Le Mans in 2015 – plagued by technical issues and a lack of pace without a working hybrid system – the team soon abandoned plans to contest the remaining 2015 rounds, choosing instead to further develop the car.
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The car’s reappearance was then pushed to the first race of 2016, at Silverstone in April. In October, Nissan’s LMP1 boss Darren Cox revealed he was moving on from the team – a move that now looks ominous in retrospect following Nissan’s latest announcement.
According to an official statement from Nissan, “The teams worked diligently to bring the vehicles up to the desired performance levels.
“However, the company concluded that the program would not be able to reach its ambitions and decided to focus on developing its longer term racing strategies.”
What the move means for Nissan’s strong lineup of factory drivers – including Brits Al Buncombe and Jann Mardenborough, and original Nissan GT Academy winner, Lucas Ordonez – is unclear.
Nissan itself will still compete in the WEC as an engine supplier in the LMP3 class, while Nissan’s Blancpain Endurance Series participation should continue. But unfortunately, its GT-R LM Nismo LMP1 program is likely to go down in history as a very expensive – and high-profile – failure.