The Best-Sounding Le Mans Prototypes Use A V8 From An SUV

If you attend Le Mans for the first time, you might be surprised by the noise the LMP3 cars make, and for good reason
The Best-Sounding Le Mans Prototypes Use A V8 From An SUV

Unless you’re hardcore into endurance racing, the chances are you haven’t heard of LMP3. It’s a fairly simple concept to understand: it’s intended to give more inexperienced drivers their first taste of prototype endurance racing before being chunked into the deep end of LMP2 or LMP1.

But here’s the thing: an LMP3 car doesn’t sound anything like its big brothers. Each LMP2 car uses a flat-plane V8 Gibson racing engine, while the LMP1 field features V6s turbos and more flat-plane V8s, and none of the cars in either category sound particularly interesting. So imagine my surprise at the 24 Hours of Le Mans when the Road To Le Mans LMP3 support race started, when a load of rumbly V8s came thundering by. Being in the not a hardcore endurance racing fan category referred to earlier, I’d not heard these beasts before. And they sound like straight-piped muscle cars.

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There’s a good reason for this: the control engine in LMP3 isn’t some highly-strung, purpose-built race unit. Nope, it’s a Nissan V8, and is pretty much the same as the engine you can find in an Infiniti QX70. When LMP3 was first announced then-Nissan motorsport boss described it as a “warmed-up road car engine.”

Bet you didn't expect this to have something in common with an Infiniti crossover...
Bet you didn't expect this to have something in common with an Infiniti…

This particular Nismo-produced version of the VK50VE still has a cross-plane crankshaft (although Nissan has used a flat-plane VK engine for the Super GT-spec GT-R before), and caps out at a modest 6800rpm. It produces about 420bhp (the Gibson LMP2 engines make 600bhp, for comparison), which is more than enough in a 900kg car. Each engine can cover over 6000 miles between rebuilds.

At this point we’d love to say that the gearbox is something similarly down-to-earth like a six-speed manual, but no: it’s a six-speed sequential transmission from X-Trac. The cars don’t have traction control or ABS, though.

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There are six manufacturers from which teams can source chassis, and the rules stipulate that the whole shebang cannot cost more than €206,000. Considering the Audi R8 LMS GT3 was €359,000 when it launched, that’s actually rather good value. It’s no wonder the formula is doing well.

It is a shame that the Le Mans prototypes that race in the famous 24 Hour event itself don’t sound quite as good, but don’t worry: the likes of the Porsche 911 RSR and the Corvette in the GTE class more than make up for that…


Nishant Dash

Am I missing something, I’m pretty sure LMP1 cars use V4s…. (or was that just Porsche)
And these sound heavenly 😍

06/18/2018 - 14:05 |
52 | 66

The Porsche 919 did, while the Audi was a diesel V6. The Toyota TS050 is a hybrid V6, and the rest are a mix of V6s and V8s

06/18/2018 - 14:06 |
30 | 0

You can choose. For LMP1 hybrids I don’t think they restrict that but the fuel consumption limits mean a V10 or V12 wouldn’t be very competitive.

06/18/2018 - 14:25 |
6 | 0

VK engine>LS

06/18/2018 - 15:17 |
18 | 4

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

You are right my man

06/18/2018 - 15:46 |
6 | 0
Robert Gracie


06/18/2018 - 15:44 |
2 | 0
Robert Gracie

I think this is the required warning needed for this series of racing!

06/18/2018 - 15:48 |
18 | 0

Wasn’t it noble who used volvo’s suv v8? Or was it mclaren?

06/18/2018 - 18:15 |
4 | 0

In reply to by 5:19.55

Noble did, it was the V8 from the XC90, tuned up and twin turbo’d, and plopped in the M600. Beautiful car, beautiful noise, and a delight to drive in every game it has been in (that I’ve had the chance to play).

06/19/2018 - 05:04 |
2 | 0

best sounding, a stretch, loudest is more correct

06/18/2018 - 18:36 |
2 | 4
Rise Comics

Now put that V8 inside of a 370z.

06/18/2018 - 20:57 |
4 | 0

naw, Nissan like most carmakers these days is like, 370z is a sports car, needs NA sub 300hp. Btw, we’re launching a new crossover with a quad turbo V8 which will have a nismo edition with 80more hp than stock, you know, for when soccer moms are really late for yoga class.

06/19/2018 - 09:41 |
2 | 0

Some are not even that pricey compared to road cars. Used one for $110,000, less than 2018 911 C4S!

06/18/2018 - 21:21 |
4 | 0

Where can I learn more about/watch LMP3?

06/19/2018 - 01:56 |
0 | 0
BoostAddict 1

I should design and build an LMP3 car. I have no idea where to start, maybe a CAD model of the engine and transmission would be a good place. Anyone got the files?

06/19/2018 - 13:01 |
0 | 0

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