Le Mans: Qualifying a "turning point" for experimental Nissan ZEOD
|By Gary Watkins||Friday, June 13th 2014, 10:15 GMT|
Nissan is increasingly confident that its ZEOD will complete the first all-electric lap of Le Mans during the 24 Hours after hitting its target of 300km/h on the Mulsanne Straight.
The Japanese manufacturer's global motorsport boss Darren Cox described yesterday's two qualifying sessions as "a turning point" for the programme after a disappointing day for the petrol-electric contender on Wednesday.
"We are now five times more confident of hitting our targets than we were after Wednesday," says Cox.
"Achieving the 300km/h (186.4mph) was a big thing for us, because we were not sure that we could achieve it - it takes a lot of juice out of the battery."
Cox explained that Satoshi Motoyama, who was driving the ZEOD in yesterday's night session when it achieved the top speed, had turned the car's petrol engine off at the Dunlop Chicane and run on electric power all the way to the second chicane on the Mulsanne.
Nissan is unlikely to go for the all-electric lap with the ZEOD, which takes the Garage 56 grid spot at Le Mans reserved for experimental machinery, until darkness falls and temperatures drop on Saturday night.
"The idea is that we are going to work up to it and go for the electric lap in the night because the cooler it is, the harder we can run the battery," Cox said.
He stressed that when the ZEOD attempts its electric lap, it will not hit 300km/h on the straight to save battery power.
Nissan is also predicting that the ZEOD will be able to run at a decent LMP2 pace on petrol power.
The car qualified on a 3m50.185s, set by Lucas Ordonez, but Cox believes a time in the 3m40s-42s range is possible.