Published On: Sat, Sep 27th, 2014

Nissan Powers Sports Car Ladder: From LM P3 TO LM P1

Today’s announcement that Nissan engines will power the new LM P3 endurance racing category slots into place the final rung of the manufacturer’s sports car ladder of success.


Nissan’s commitment to sports car racing is clear: a new LM P1 programme, unrivalled success with its LM P2 engine and today’s LM P3 news demonstrates how Nissan is leading the way by providing a clear path through the ranks of endurance racing.

It is now possible for the winners of Nissan PlayStation GT Academy to go all the way with Nissan. After honing their craft in Nissan GT4 and GT3 cars, the winners can start to learn about sports car racing in LM P3 before moving up to LM P2, which will give them their first taste of the Le Mans 24 Hours, and then, if they make the grade, they can compete at the highest level of global sports car racing in Nissan’s LM P1 challenger: the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.

The LM P3 category has been created by the ACO to provide cost-effective, low-maintenance prototype racing cars for constructors, teams and drivers starting out in endurance racing. Eligible to compete in the European Le Mans Series and Asian Le Mans Series in 2015, the new closed-cockpit cars will be built by a number of manufacturers but each one of them will be powered by Nissan.

Speaking at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas, USA, NISMO’s Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, Darren Cox said: “We welcome this new series and congratulate the ACO on providing a cost-capped entry level category where young drivers and gentlemen drivers can hone their prototype racing skills.

“It goes without saying that we are committed to all levels of motorsport and take pleasure in watching our drivers rise through the ranks. With our involvement in LM P3 we have now closed the loop and can take our drivers all the way through to LM P1 with Nissan.”

The LM P3 powerplant is a NISMO-tuned Nissan VK50VE 5-litre normally-aspirated V8 engine.

Nissan has powered to the top of the LM P2 category in the past few years, most recently taking the top five places in class at the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours, the pinnacle of endurance racing. With a strong presence in LM P3, LM P2 and LM P1 Nissan is ready for another fantastic season of sports car racing in 2015.


  • Nissan’s new LM P1 team to test GT Academy alumni
  • Past winners and finalists targeted for LM P1 opportunity
  • Nissan’s Le Mans and FIA WEC American base in Indianapolis

AUSTIN, Texas, USA (18 September 2014) – Nissan will begin the search for an American star to join its new LM P1 Le Mans 24 Hour and FIA World Endurance Championship team, giving a former gamer the opportunity to graduate to the highest levels of the sport.

Nissan’s GT Academy competition is already renowned as one of the most innovative driver development programmes in history.

During the past six years, GT Academy has had more than five million entrants via PlayStation, more than one billion virtual miles have been driven in Nissans on Gran Turismo, and the programme’s television packages have been seen by more than 120 million people across the globe.

Former US GT Academy winners Bryan Heitkotter (2011), Steve Doherty (2012) and Nick McMillen (2013) plus a number of other past American finalists will be given the chance to impress the new Nissan LM P1 team’s bosses.

The goal for Nissan’s LM P1 team was revealed at Circuit of The Americas at the US round of the FIA World Endurance Championship and follows yesterday’s celebration of NISMO’s 30th anniversary.

Nissan’s new LM P1 team will have a base in the US, taking advantage of track facilities in the warmer southern states climate to test its new machine which will do battle against Audi, Porsche and Toyota from next year.

The team is currently setting up its new US home, refurbishing the former Indianapolis headquarters of Champ Car team, Forsythe Racing.

“All the US winners of GT Academy have gone on to taste victory in major professional events around the world,” said Darren Cox, Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, NISMO.

“But we have also been blessed with some other amazing talents in every year of the competition – an embarrassment of riches really. Some of the guys who didn’t win have gone on to launch motorsport careers after using GT Academy as a kickstart.

“We have our eye on some additional drivers that we would like to put through their paces again and see if we have somebody who could have what it takes to drive for Nissan in LM P1 at Le Mans.”

Nissan today also announced that it will be the sole engine supplier for the new LM P3 class that will contest the European Le Mans Series from next year.

“Once we identify the most suitable GT Academy alumni, we will put him through an extensive program with the aim of putting them in an LM P3 car. LM P2 would be the next step at Le Mans – we’ll use every driver development tool we have to take them to the next level but they will also have to step up,” said Cox.

“It is going to take more than just talent to get them into an LM P1 car but the opportunity will be there if they are prepared to work for it.

“Getting experience in prototype machinery will be a critical component of the development process. We already have a number of past GT Academy winners from Europe who we are looking at for the LM P1 program – many of whom have already raced in LM P2.”

The Nissan LM P1 team is very different. On the technical side the squad has many nationalities – Americans, Brits, Frenchmen, Brazilians and of course a large component of Japanese talent and experience.

The team will have a European base as well as operating from NISMO’s headquarters in Japan and a new home here in the US in Indianapolis. Nissan’s team chiefs are keen to see an American driver on the grid here at Circuit of The Americas in the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO in 2016.

GT Academy has grown to include new territories in 2014, including Mexico, the Middle East, Asia and Australia alongside the usual North American, German and European competitions.

Heitkotter and Doherty will compete this weekend at Circuit of The Americas in the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge as teammates at Skullcandy Team Nissan aboard a Nissan Altima 3.5.

The 2013 American winner McMillen will race for Nissan GT Academy Team RJN at the Nurburgring round of the Blancpain Endurance Championship this weekend as well.

About Nissan Motor Co.

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan’s second-largest automotive company, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, and is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 244,500 employees globally, Nissan sold almost 5.2 million vehicles and generated revenue of 10.5 trillion yen (USD 105 billion) in fiscal 2013. Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of more than 60 models under the Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun brands. In 2010, Nissan introduced the Nissan LEAF, and continues to lead in zero-emission mobility. The LEAF, the first mass-market, pure-electric vehicle launched globally, is now the best-selling EV in history with almost 50% share of the zero-emission vehicle segment. For more information on our products, services and commitment to sustainable mobility,