ByKOLLES have announced on their website today their car for the 2017 WEC season will be powered by Nismo. The V6-Turbo engine is the same used in the Nissan GT-R LM that raced in the 2015 24 hours of Le Mans.
There had been rumors of the engine possibly serving as the power unit in a DPi car for IMSA, but it appears Nissan have found a home for their V6-Turbo in the WEC via ByKOLLES. Looking back at Nissan’s effort in the 2015 Le Mans race, the engine was perhaps the highlight of the GT-R LM. In a straight line, the car was on pace with the other LMP1 Hybrids, recording some of the highest top speeds down the Mulsanne straight in 2015.
Ultimately the car was uncompetitive in the race due primarily to suspension and other reliability issues not associated with the engine. Nissan also had difficulty with their ambitious dual-hybrid system, providing hybrid power to both the front and rear axles. The car underwent some testing at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas post-Le Mans, but sadly would not see the racing grid again.
ByKOLLES is moving on from their AER engine used in 2016 which proved to be unreliable. Retirements were the norm for the team. As a result, they were not competitive with the other LMP1 non-hybrid team, Rebellion. ByKOLLES are optimistic their package will be able to produces better race results in 2017. Boris Bermes, ByKOLLES’ Head of Operations, via their website explains, “After having to deal with many setbacks in the past due to engine reliability issues, for the 2017 season, we’re expecting a significant improvement in terms of both reliability as well as performance.”
Part of this optimism stems from their CLM P1/01 car receiving additional upgrades. Bermes describes, “We’re relentlessly working on numerous additional improvements to our car. As a result of the changes in regulations for 2017, we will be able to make big improvements to both the front and the rear, particularly in aerodynamics.” The Audi-esque approach by ByKOLLES in their 2016 aero package, opting for a F1 inspired raised nose, was one of the better looking aero solutions on the WEC grid. Building upon the 2016 base could feature prominently in a category desperately needing some visual variation.
Barring any last minute surprise entries, ByKOLLES is set to be the only LMP1 non-hybrid car in the 2017 WEC lineup. The privateer team will hope with their upgraded package they can be within striking distance at race end to achieve podium positions.
Regardless of their competitiveness, seeing powered by Nismo across the dorsal fin of an LMP1 again feels right. One can hope Nissan leaving a foot in the WEC pool via ByKOLLES means they will someday soon be fully immersed again.
The WEC full season entry list is scheduled to be revealed live from Le Mans on Thursday February 2nd.