LE CASTELLET, France – GT Academy winners Wolfgang Reip and Lucas Ordóñez – plus three-time Japanese Super GT champion Satoshi Motoyama – have a totally new set of buttons to learn when they jump behind the wheel of the Nissan ZEOD RC.
While Reip and Ordóñez began their racing career pushing buttons on their PlayStation controllers, the talented racers have been learning the control systems on the Nissan ZEOD RC which will make its race debut at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours.
In this exclusive video, fans can now get an insight into what it takes to master the controls of this unique race car which not only features a pair of electric motors producing 300 horsepower, but a separate internal combustion engine which produces 400 horsepower from a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder, 40 kilogram (88 pound) powerplant.
The electric and gasoline systems drive the car through the same gearbox, which is located between the two. The internal combustion engine is placed right behind the fuel tank and battery at the rear of the tub, while the electric motors are located at the rear of the car.
Each has its own electrical system, which is activated by the driver: a 12 volt system for basic systems including lights and radio, and a separate 400 volt system used exclusively for the electric motors.
"There is certainly a lot to learn from the driver's perspective as this car is very different than anything seen at Le Mans previously," Reip said. "I've only done one race in a prototype and most of my racing has been aboard GT cars where the steering wheel in particular is much simpler. Once you have done a couple of days in the car, it does start to feel like your office and you know where everything is. There was a lot to learn to start with."
Reip, Ordóñez and Motoyama have been behind the wheel of the Nissan ZEOD RC this week during testing at Circuit Paul Ricard in the South of France.
"Once you have done a couple of days in the car, it does start to feel like your office and you know where everything is. There was a lot to learn to start with," said Reip.
Both GT Academy alumni are eagerly awaiting the chance to drive the car at Le Mans for the first time. For Spaniard Ordóñez however, he'll have to wait an extra couple of weeks.
Racing full time in Japan in Super GT in 2014, Ordóñez has a clashing race at Autopolis on the same weekend as the Le Mans test day on June 1. Ordóñez and Kazuki Hoshino finished fourth in the opening round of the championship aboard the NDDP Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in the GT300 class last weekend.
For the Le Mans test weekend, Nissan has enlisted two-time Le Mans Series LMP2 champion and dual Le Mans 24 Hours class winner, Brazilian Tommy Erdos, to fill in for Ordóñez.
"Tommy obviously has a tremendous record at Le Mans, and being from Brazil adds additional international flavor to our lineup," said Darren Cox, Nissan Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, NISMO. "Tommy is a very safe pair of hands and a two-time Le Mans class winner, having him available to help out is a real bonus for the Nissan ZEOD RC program."
The Nissan ZEOD RC will compete at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours as the "Garage 56" entry, an additional slot on the grid reserved by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest for cars showcasing new and innovative technology. Nissan is using the ZEOD RC program as a development platform for its planned LM P1 class debut in 2015.
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