Nissan has released details on the lightweight internal combustion engine to be used in the DeltaWing-shaped Nissan ZEOD RC race car, which is gearing up to enter this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race in June.
The ZEOD RC's new 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder Nissan DIG-T R engine can produce up to 400 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque at 7,500 rpm, but weighs in at just 88 lbs. The suitcase-sized engine boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 10 hp per kg, which according to Nissan bests modern engines that will be featured in the Formula One World Championship.
French lubricant manufacturer Total helped develop friction-reducing oil and fuel to get the most out of the compact 1.5-liter engine, which could eventually inform the future of engine development in Nissan road cars. “Nissan will become the first major manufacturer to use a three-cylinder engine in major international motorsport,” said Nissan global motorsport director Darren Cox.“We're aiming to maintain our position as industry leaders in focusing on downsizing. Lessons learned from the development of the engine will be seen in Nissan road cars of the future.”
The new engine will work alongside the previously-announced electric powerplant, which made its first public run in the ZEOD RC at Fuji Speedway last October. Operating on electric energy alone, the aerodynamic ZEOD RC was capable of 186 mph with a five-speed racing-spec gearbox in use. Nissan plans to achieve at least that speed with both engines at work, but seeks to make history in June as the first vehicle to complete a full 8.5-mile lap at Le Mans using only electric energy.
June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will also serve as an opportunity for Nissan to learn and further develop technology its planned entry to the LM P1 class of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship.