Nissan ZEOD RC achieves a silent speed record at Le Mans

The Nissan ZEOD RC may have just achieved the quietest record in 24 Hours of Le Mans history.

The radical plug-in hybrid race car was clocked at 186 mph during qualifying in the hands of Nissan factory driver Satoshi Motoyama. That’s the fastest speed ever recorded at the Circuit de la Sarthe course on electric power.

The Nissan turned in a qualifying time of 3:50.185 after one session. To put that in perspective, the number 7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid that won the pole (meaning it gets to start in first place) averaged 3:21.789 over three sessions.

It’s also worth remembering that the ZEOD RC doesn’t have much competition when it comes to setting electric-power records, and the team still has to achieve its ultimate goal of an unprecedented all-electric lap at Le Mans.

Still, the more time the ZEOD RC spends on the track, the more it proves zero-emission vehicles have a place there.

That is the car’s primary mission. As the Garage 56 entry, the ZEOD isn’t allowed to compete for a podium spot; it doesn’t meet the organizers’ strict rules. Rather, it will demonstrate plug-in hybrid propulsion, and hopefully provide some valuable experience for Nissan’s engineers.

It will do that with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that produces 400 horsepower and weighs just 88 pounds. It’s teamed with a pair of 110-kilowatt (148 hp) electric motors, and a control system that allows the driver to switch between electric and gasoline power on the fly.

In addition to Motoyama, the ZEOD will be manned by Lucas Ordonez and Wolfgang Reip, two gamers that made the transition to professional racing through Nissan’s GT Academy.