I spoke with Mr. Cox, in preparation for a speech I was asked to do - The Front-Engine FWD 4WD Nissan NISMO Hybrid Le Mans Race Car UNSETTLES Everything You Think You Know About Racing [Transcript will be posted to /ShakeDown in the next days].
Darren Cox is the Global Director of Nissan NISMO Motorsport [on right, seen here with designer and Director of Nissan Motorsport Innovation, Ben Bowlby].
The GT-R LMP1-H Le Mans car you all know. But, the following 5 questions with Darren Cox get behind the reasons, rationale, and expectations of the car.....and its 'deliverables'.
1] WHY did Nissan do this car?
- Why did Nissan say to you 'Be different'?
DC - "We have to live our Brand – Many companies have a strapline or brand messaging pyramid – But, what's the point unless you live it. It needs physical evidence or it's irrelevant for consumers."
- Which came 1st – The "Innovation That Excites" branding? Or the radical race car proposal for this car? Or is this a 'Chicken v Egg' question?
DC- "'Innovation That Excites' is a brand statement for all of Nissan globally – We just have to live it."
- Is this car all about 'Marketing/Branding'? Or also 'Tech Transfer/Learning' for road cars?
DC - "Both. But, also a flag waver for our employees, customer, and partners. We want our employees, dealers and other stakeholders to have the confidence to live our brand in what they do. We are the flag bearer – if you can't take risks / innovate in Motorsport, where can you?"
2] WHERE is the car in its development?
- xx% complete? OR 100% complete and only xx% of the facts shared with the press and public [eg; Racing secrets need to be kept secret]?
DC - "Design done. Refining now. Every test is a big test for us. Our engineers are learning so much so quickly. We are tight on time, of course. It's another example of living the Nissan management way of being agile and frugal. Other brands may have waited another year."
3] HOW will this car race?
- Biggest advantage - Speed [V-Max] or Efficiency?
DC - "Aerodynamic efficiency is the big challenge in all motorsports. We think ours makes us competitive. We will find out if we have our sums right on the speed traps at Le Mans."
- How WILL the car drive for the racer?
DC- "As per our philosophy, we want to give fans the chance to drive the car. It will be launched in a number of racing games. One of which will be Gran Turismo of course! As for your article, you may not be far off there."
4] WHAT is the biggest challenge here?
- Getting the complexity to work? Set-up knowledge? Experience with the car? Win or else?
DC - "Short timescales to take advantage of rules window and the budget we have set ourselves to stay within."
DC - "We have set up a virtual organisation to keep costs to a minimum. No gin palaces here. If we are successful every race team may want to look at their approach to aero, facilities, driver choice, structures, lead times etc., etc.."
PS - Have already asked to get this story - The Nissan Process Management of Motorsport.
5] WHAT does define success for Nissan NISMO GT-R LMP1-H?
- Win or else? Simply making the effort to create "Innovation That Excites"?
DC - "1st Year; Be credible and in the mix on pace at Le Mans. Year 2; Challenging for the Podium. Getting the highest share of voice off track is only secondary. BUT, Marketing and Brand-building is the focus of the wider NISMO motorsport programmes."
Darren Cox, thanks for your openess and responses.