With ESM shut down and CORE autosport’s Jon Bennett stepping away from racing, the NISMO DPi’s time as the fourth DPi manufacturer in IMSA is over, unless a customer programme from left field steps up.
The NISMO DPi is somewhat of an enigma. A special project commissioned by ESM, Ligier’s JS P217 chassis was converted into a NISMO prototype featuring a GT3 engine and GT-R styling cues in an effort to take on the might of Cadillac, Mazda and later Acura in IMSA’s new formula.
During its three seasons, the chassis was unable to win a title, the results simply not consistent enough in either ESM or CORE’s hands. Then again, against Cadillac during 2017 and 2018, was any sort of title challenge from anyone not campaigning a DPi V.R. really realistic?
What it did do though, is prove that a lower-budget DPi programme, run and developed well, could take the fight to the creme-de-la-creme in IMSA. It won two key races, the 2017 Petit Le Mans, closing its maiden season with a bang, and the 2018 Sebring 12 Hours. Both victories did a lot to change the perception of ESM, Ligier’s LMP2 chassis and Nissan’s engine package.
Sadly though, beyond ESM’s second season there would be no more notable successes. CORE autosport stepped up in the wake of ESM’s departure from racing, but running a single car was unable to rediscover the form it found during 2018 when it won races and challenged for the title with an ORECA 07 before the Prototype class split.
Side note, a recent Marshall Pruett Inside The Sports Car Paddock Podcast (below) featured an interview with engineer Jeff Braun, discussing the NISMO DPi. It’s well worth a listen:
2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Elhkart Lake win
2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Petit Le Mans win
2018 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sebring 12 Hours win
2018 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Laguna Seca win
Other notable customer teams/liveries
CORE autosport 2019
CORE autosport 2019 Petit Le Mans livery