Nissan's motorsport arm Nismo has confirmed that it will retire the GT-R LM Nismo prototype racer after just one season of competition, citing poor on-track performance as the reason behind its early exit from racing.
The unorthodox front-wheel-drive GT-R LM was withdrawn from the World Endurance Championship and relegated to a testing role in August following its poor showing at Le Mans, where just one GT-R LM out of three finished the race, winding up in 40th position overall - well behind the rest of the LM P1 pack.
Nismo blamed issues with the car's energy recovery system, which hobbled the hybrid GT-R LM and forced it to run on engine-only power for much of the race.
The GT-R LM's demotion to a testing platform was meant to prepare it for a second stab at Le Mans in 2016, but this week's announcement puts the lid on that plan.
“The teams worked diligently to bring the vehicles up to the desired performance levels,” said Nismo in a statement released this week.
“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”.
The GT-R LM was unique in that it was the only front-engined, front-wheel drive race car to ever contest the LM P1 category in the World Endurance Championship.
Nismo's strategy was to equip it with a relatively low-powered twin-turbo petrol V6 engine, and exploit LM P1 category rules that lifted energy recovery restrictions for hybrid cars below a certain power threshold.
By pushing the engine and drivetrain into the nose of the car, Nismo also had more freedom with the GT-R LM's aero package, which should have - in theory - gifted it with the downforce needed to counter its front-heavy weight distribution.
Unfortunately, Nismo's decision to retire the GT-R LM program will mean we'll never see if its ambitious design would have paid dividends had its reliability issues been worked out.
That said, Nismo won't be completely absent from the World Endurance Championship next year - it will continue to field the more conventional road-car based GT-R GT3, and will support teams in the LM P3 category using its five-litre VK50 V8 racing engine.
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