The driver line-up for Nissan’s ZEOD RC prototype will feature two past winners of the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy programme with Belgian driver Wolfgang Reip signed to join Lucas Ordóñez at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will occupy ‘Garage 56′ at Le Mans – the entry reserved by the Automobile Club de L’Ouest for cars demonstrating new and innovative technology. The vehicle, as unveiled in October 2013, uses a pair of electric motors that will push top speeds of over 300 km/h for a complete lap of Le Mans. A 40kg/400 horsepower 3-cylinder turbo engine will accompany the electric motors. The car’s battery will be charged by regenerative braking during each fuel stint with the electric motors taking over for one lap for each tank of fuel. This year’s Le Mans assault is part of the development process for Nissan’s planned LM P1 programme scheduled to debut in 2015.
GT Academy graduates
In 2012, Reip won the European edition of the GT Academy programme that takes virtual racers from their living room to the race track through the legendary Gran Turismo PlayStation game. The Belgian made his race debut in the 2013 Dubai 24 Hours and was selected to represent Nissan in the Blancpain Endurance Series and finished on the podium in his first race in FIA World Endurance Championship driving a LMP2 prototype. The Le Mans rookie will line-up alongside inaugural GT Academy winner Lucas Ordóñez in the ZEOD RC. Ordóñez heads into the 2014 Le Mans 24 hours with two LM P2 podium finishes at the classic French endurance event. The final driver will be announced in the near future.
“Not only has Reip been fast but he is a quick learner and his technical feedback has been quite exceptional,” says Darran Cox, Nissan Global Motorsports Director. “We’ve already had him behind the wheel of the ZEOD RC in testing and he has again really impressed everyone. He and Lucas work very well together and it is quite fitting that our first couple of drivers on such a unique electric-powered car began their careers with a PlayStation plugged into the electric power socket in their living room.”
Reip has received the chance to test the ZEOD RC. “It is something completely differnt to anything I’ve driven before. The development of the power train is a really interesting project. I have learned a great deal on technical side of things, spending time with the engineers and the team. As a driver it is extremely useful for me to learn more about the technical side, especially for such a unique project.”
“Driving down the Mulsanne Straight at 300km/h in virtual silence will be something very special. Nobody has done it before and I really can’t imagine what it is going to feel like,” Reip describes. “The challenge we’re tackling at Nissan is very unique to complete an entire lap of Le Mans on electric power – it’s the type of thing you don’t even see in Formula 1 yet. The electric aspect is a big part of this project but the internal combustion engine in the ZEOD is also quite incredible. The power to weight ratio of the ZEOD RC DIG-T R is better than what you’ll see in Formula 1 and it weighs only 40 kilograms but with 400 horsepower.”
“The feel between the electric engine and the internal combustion engine is completely different. It is not just the sound. With the electric engine you feel the torque straight away from the moment you hit the throttle – it comes on at 100 per cent straight away,” knows Reip.
Wolfgang Reip, Darren Cox and the Nissan ZEOD RC will be on site at the International Geneva Motor Show.