The 2014 Garage 56 entrant, the Nissan ZEOD RC, is shooting to run its first full all-electric lap in qualifying for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
A tightened time scale and limited testing has provided a challenge for the experimental entry thus far, but Darren Cox, NISMO Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, still feels confident the car can achieve its targets.
“We will try to do it for qualifying and repeat it in the race,” Cox told Sportscar365. “With the petrol engine we should be faster than a P2, and with the electric only, we’ll try to go to our stated aim, which is faster than a Ferrari. That’s a nice marketing line.”
Much of how well the ZEOD does – pace-wise – will have to do with how much energy is stored in the batteries and how much charge will be taken out. That affects the battery life going forward.
The ZEOD that will race is also a new chassis instead of the one that was used at Le Mans test day. At the test day, speeds reached a maximum of 258 km/h, which was unrepresentative of potential due to a warning light that came on past 250. Cox estimates more than 300 km/h is possible given the gearing in place.
This new chassis, driven by Lucas Ordonez, Satoshi Motoyama and Wolfgang Reip, will have batteries still to come in what Cox called a “journey of discovery.”
“Literally this is the only prototype on the grid,” Cox said. “By definition, a prototype is changing everything all the time.
“This is everything that Garage 56 should be,” he added. “It’s difficult, innovative, pushing boundaries; it might work and it might not. It’s brilliant. Why other manufacturers don’t get involved, I don’t know.”
Cox admitted the car won’t be running all 24 hours continuously, and if it is still running after 24 hours, it would be “a miracle.” Still, that’s not to detract from the goal of the entry.
The compressed nature of the calendar has been daunting as well, but not something Nissan can’t overcome.
“The time scale has been our problem,” he said. “With another month we’d be massively confident. That’s motorsport. But no one moves Le Mans for us.”