Although many different cars have past the black-and-white checkered line which marks the start and finish of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, there are few with as little in common as the pair in these two videos – the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC and the Corvette C6.R. With the Leaf RC driven by head of Nissan North America Carlos Tavares and the C6.R driven by Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin, these two very different cars show what they can do at the famed Circuit de la Sarthe.
The Leaf RC is seen giving a demonstration before the race, driving alongside a Honda CR-Z safety car and BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid among other cars. With its fellow green machines, the Leaf RC takes a parade lap around La Sarthe, leisurely winding up its electric motor to drive at an easy pace. The in-car camera captures all the action on track, but more importantly captures the sound inside the cabin. When we brought you the video of the Leaf RC performing shakedown tests in Japan, all you could hear was a gentle whistle as the car flew by on the track. Here, the sound is closer to the whine of a jet engine. Cool for a little while, but the novelty starts to wear off around the three-minute mark. When the car finally gets the opportunity to get up to full gallop on the straightaway, it doesn’t look like it has too much trouble accelerating – despite only having the same 102 hp and 207 lb-ft. of torque as the road-going Leaf. Although the video is a bit lengthy at over 20 minutes long, the footage does show an EV doing a fair job of driving one of sports car racing’s most challenging tracks.
The next video features racing driver Oliver Gavin giving pointers on how to drive Le Mans as he pilots the Corvette C6.R. Gavin doesn’t take it as easy as the Leaf RC, but does drive at a jogging pace, only allowing the ‘Vette’s 5.5-liter V-8 get into the upper rpm range a few times during the video. Although the rumble of an internal combustion engine is a familiar and somehow soothing sound in this video, the noise, along with the heat generated, probably wears down a driver in a 24-hour race – perhaps giving an advantage to the Leaf RC in terms of driver comfort. After dishing out tips on every corner of Le Mans, Gavin concludes his lap of the circuit.
While the gap in performance between the two cars is obvious, the Leaf RC gets cut a bit of slack for having an all-electric drivetrain. It may still be a few years before we see all-electric cars like the Leaf RC actually racing at Le Mans (if ever), but the development of this car blazes a trail for further use of EVs in racing.