Nissan rules out FIA WEC LMP1 return in 2015

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Nissan has confirmed that it will not return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship until 2016 as its extensive testing and development programme continues.

The Japanese manufacturer embarked on a three-car assault at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June with its unique Nissan GT-R LM NISMO runner, but encountered a myriad of problems that saw none of the trio end the race as classified finishers.

Nissan had been due to take part in the next race, the 6 Hours of Nürburgring in July, but announced that it would be delaying its return to LMP1 until the technical issues had been resolved.

In a statement issued on Thursday, it was confirmed that it will now be focusing on making a comeback for the 2016 FIA WEC season while testing continued.

“Nissan today announced that the innovative Nissan GT-R LM NISMO will return to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2016,” the statement reads.

“The team has been working hard to address the technical issues faced at Le Mans in June and is in the middle of a comprehensive test and development programme to prepare the new car to race against the tough competition it faces in the LMP1 class.”

The team is sticking with its original design plan for the GT-R LM NISMO, but has made a change in its race operation as Michael Carcamo joins as team principal in place of Ben Bowlby.

“Ben had his hands full trying to do everything, managing the design and build but also the race and test operation,” Carcamo, formerly of Nissan Mexico, said. “That’s a lot to ask anyone to do, especially with a concept that requires this level of development.

“My knowledge of Nissan engineering processes and project planning experience will help Ben and the team concentrate on making the car deliver on its promise.

“The challenge that we took on was a monumental task. We have to learn all of the dynamics of this new vehicle and all the performance tuning so it takes a long time to find the sweet spot of performance.

“We recognise that challenge and we’ve added the resources and infrastructure behind the programme to try and bring it to that next level.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III