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February 4, 2014

Tiny 1.5-liter 3-Cylinder Engine to Power Nissan's Le Mans Racer

Seems tiny 3-cylinder engines are the way to go these days. After Ford showed off that their 1.0 EcoBoost can fit as carry-on luggage and can still outperform some of the world’s foremost supercars (when placed in a road-legal Formula Ford Racecar), Nissan is getting into the act with their motorsports division, Nismo.

In June, Nissan will field in a new and innovative prototype for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The ZEOD RC will be powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine that packs 400 horsepower and 380 Nm of torque. The incredibly lightweight engine, dubbed DIG-T R, weighs only 40 kilograms and is only 500 mm tall x 400 mm long x 200 mm wide. In other words, it has a better power-to-weight ratio than the new turbocharged Formula One engines.

At its Le Mans outing, the ZEOD RC racecar won’t just be relying on the DIG-T R engine though. As a gasoline-electric hybrid car, the ZEOD RC can actually do a full lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe on nothing but electric power until the 1.5-liter engine kicks to life. After that, it can do an all-electric lap every hour.

With a heavy focus on downsizing the ZEOD RC as much as possible, Nissan is working closely with Total to develop fuels and lubricants specifically for the race to maximize the potential of the engine. After its Le Mans outing on June 14-15, this will form the basis of a planned entry into the LMP 1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2015.

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