Nissan confirms LMP1 program for 2015 FIA WEC; car reveal will have to wait

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The good news: Nissan, via NISMO Global, has confirmed its long-rumored participation in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship, with its new LMP1 car.

The bad news: We’ll have to wait to see what it looks like.

At a press conference in London on Friday, Nissan confirmed a two-car entry for the 2015 FIA WEC. It will take its flagship car, the GT-R, and insert it into the top level of the FIA World Endurance Championship with two cars.

The LMP1 car will be called the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, which carries on a sporting bloodline that stretches back 30 years and recognizes the company’s flagship road car, the Nissan GT-R.

ACO President Pierre Fillon joined Nissan’s Chief Planning Office & Executive Vice-President, Andy Palmer; NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani and NIMSO Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, Darren Cox, for the announcement at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London.

“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do,” Palmer said in a manufacturer release. “There is no better place to demonstrate innovation than here in Europe’s new hot-bed of digital marketing and, from next year, on track at Le Mans. We have chosen this venue – and made it a celebration, rather than yet another press conference – to reflect the fact that when we go racing, we do so differently.”

When it came to the press conference itself, Palmer used a bit stronger language to describe Nissan’s success in the efficiency department given the Leaf, its road-going EV model.

“The new regulations demand efficiency… and that’s what Nissan owns. We’ll bring our know-how and passion into LMP1,” he said.

As for the tease of the car, Palmer said that due to the competition, they’ll wait to unveil their car at a later date. A teaser image was included with the release.

“We all want to see it … but we’re gonna have to wait,” he said. “But Audi, Toyota, Porsche … we’re coming to spoil your party… and have fun in the process. We’re going to win in a very different way.”

Nissan’s main effort this year at Le Mans is concentrated around the all-electric Nissan ZEOD RC prototype, which is entered as the Garage 56 chassis this year, and with a wealth of engines in the LMP2 class – 15 of the 19 cars entered in class.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.