Nissan Motor Company and Keiko Ihara, currently the only Japanese female driver competing in the World Endurance Championships (WEC) — the highest form of sports-car endurance racing in the world — have signed a partnership agreement to promote zero emission mobility*1
Ihara's first exposure to racing occurred when she worked as a “race queen" at a Formula 1 race. She was bitten by the racing bug immediately, intrigued by the incredible performance and excitement of competitive motorsports. She obtained her driver's license when she was in her early twenties and made her debut as a racecar driver at 25. Since then, she has traveled all over the world, visiting 50 countries and competing in high-profile racing series, such as F3 and the WEC. She became the first female driver to record a pole position-to-win in an FIA-sanctioned race, and the first Japanese woman to earn points in an international race.*2 In 2012, she entered the WEC — the only Japanese female driver to do so — and earned her first world championship point.
Ihara is also quite busy away from the racetrack, as she is involved in education and traffic environmental issues. She is a fellow of the U.S.-Japan leadership program for world conferences and social contribution activities, and in September 2012, she received the “Profiles of Passion Without Borders Japan" Award from the Japanese government's Minister of State for National Policy. She also has a deep understanding of zero emission mobility and is always promoting their benefits.
Nissan recognizes Ihara's unique talents, unbreakable spirit and fierce determination that make her a true pioneer in her sport and one of the top female athletes in the world. Nissan will sponsor Ihara, who races in the LMP2 class of the WEC, and her Gulf Racing racecar that features a Lola chassis and Nissan engine. Ihara will take part in infrastructure-building activities such as the opening of quick-charging stations to help build a sustainable mobility society for EVs in Japan.
Ihara, whose unique career that has her competing in various venues all over the world, is the ideal person to represent and support Nissan's efforts to become a more diverse and truly global company.