Nissan back to front-line prototypes with Extreme Speed IMSA deal

Nissan will return to front-line prototype racing in the IMSA SportsCar Championship next season with the Extreme Speed Motorsports team

Nissan back to front-line prototypes with Extreme Speed IMSA deal

The Japanese manufacturer has agreed a multi-year partnership to supply engines to ESM for a new Daytona Prototype international chassis based on Onroak Automotive's forthcoming Ligier JSP217.

The engine will be the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 that powers the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 racer.

The deal will take Nissan back into the top class of a major sportscar series for the first time since the end of the shortlived GT-R LM NISMO LMP1 World Endurance Championship programme of 2015.

Tequila Patron-sponsored ESM will field a pair of Nissan-branded DPi contenders in conjunction with the French OAK Racing squad, which is masterminding its 2016 World Endurance Championship LMP2 campaign.

Nissan global motorsport boss Mike Carcamo said: "We are delighted to join Tequila Patron and OAK Racing for the 2017 IMSA season.

"We believe Nissan and NISMO can add to this already successful programme by providing a competitive powertrain."

ESM boss Scott Sharp explained that the team had decided to return full-time to the North American IMSA series for the first time since 2014 for two reasons.

"The WEC is an incredible championship, but it is also very expensive and there are three races at which we cannot carry Tequila Patron livery, including the biggest race of the world at Le Mans," he told Autosport.

"This deal also gives us the opportunity to challenge for overall wins, which is certainly appealing."

The first Nissan-powered DPi will miss the official IMSA tests at the end of the year and is scheduled for a shakedown before Christmas.

No drivers have been announced for the programme, but Sharp said that a line-up made up of the "usual grouping" could be expected.

The team set-up will be similar to ESM's successful campaign in this year's North American Endurance Cup component of the IMSA series, said Sharp.

"It will be our guys running the cars with key people from OAK and engineering support," he explained.

ESM will continue its NAEC campaign, which yielded overall victories at the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours at the start of this year, at the Petit Le Mans finale at Road Atlanta on October 1.

It will field a solo Ligier-Honda JSP2 driven by Sharp, Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek.

ESM and Nissan will join Cadillac and Mazda in fielding DPi machinery in the Prototype class of the IMSA series next year.

The IMSA DPi regulations allow manufacturers using their own powerplant to produce their own bodywork for one of the four new LMP2 designs eligible for next season.

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