The Garage 56 curse continues after the Nissan ZEOD RC retired from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 23 minutes into the race. A gearbox failure was to blame for the car following in the footsteps of the Nissan DeltaWing and pioneering Hybrid LMP2 racer which have previously filled the proving ground at the end of pit lane.
The crushing blow of retiring early comes on the same day that the team celebrated turning in the first fully electric powered lap of the 8.5 mile Circuit de La Sarthe.
Nissan say that the revolutionary parts of the car, the 1.5l 3-in-line petrol engine and pair of 110kW electric motors, both performed flawlessly. The traditional race car component was the part that failed.
“They say that life is a rollercoaster but certainly motorsport takes this to the next level. Just today we’ve had massive highs followed by a temporary low,” said Darren Cox from Nissan NISMO.
“This morning the team did a brilliant job in achieving the electric lap. We only tried it once and we completed it. That is an amazing accomplishment for Nissan and electric vehicles.
“We were very confident in starting the race and earlier in the week we had already exceeded 300km/h. We were looking forward to doing some more electric laps throughout the race but a traditional part of a gearbox broke.
“It is a real shame because we were really looking forward to showcasing the EV technology in the race.
“It has been an amazing experience for everyone that has been involved. I hope everyone who was worked on the project and put in so many hours will remember the high when the car completed its electric lap of Le Mans.”
Wolfgaing Reip was the only driver to get a chance to race the Nissan ZEOD RC, both Lucas Ordonez and Satoshi Motoyama were in the garage as the effort was withdrawn. “Being at the wheel for the first all-electric lap was certainly an amazing thrill and very rewarding after spending so much time during the development of the car,” Reip commented.
“The race was obviously very disappointing but having got a taste of Le Mans now, I can’t wait to get back. This is an amazing race and I’d love to be a part of it again.”
Nissan return to the top class of Le Mans racing in 2015 with a fully fledged factory effort from NISMO. The Nissan GT-R LM Nismo LMP1 car will use technology developed for the ZEOD RC. The effort lives on.