Nissan’s GT Academy graduates are taught from Day One to believe that anything is possible if you want it enough. The current roster of graduates, now fully-fledged Nismo Athletes, must have big dreams as the 2013 racing season holds a plethora of challenges for the virtual-to-real racers.
Between them they will race the fearsome Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, the Nissan-powered LMP2 car of Greaves Motorsport and Carlin Motorsport’s Formula 3 car.
Two of the newest graduates will race for ‘Nissan GT Academy Team RJN’ in the new FIA GT Series. Mark Shulzhitskiy and Wolfgang Reip will provide an all-gamer line-up in the no.32 Nissan GT-R, while the no.35 car will be in the hands of Lucas Ordonez and Nissan regular Alex Buncombe. Both cars are Pro-Am entries in the FIA GT Series.
Both of these line-ups will also compete in the Pro-Am category of the Blancpain Endurance Series where Mark and Wolfgang will be joined by German GT Academy winner Peter Pyzera. This again creates an all-gamer line-up, demonstrating the confidence that Nissan has in its new found talent. In the sister car US winner Steve Doherty will join the team with Lucas and Alex to compete head to head with his fellow 2012 GT Academy graduates. The Blancpain Endurance Series is a championship consisting of three 3-hour races at Monza, Silverstone and Paul Ricard; a 1000km Nürburgring round and the daunting Spa 24 Hours, which will be a stern test of the new graduates. They will however all be under the ever-patient tuition of ‘Nissan GT Academy Team RJN’ boss Bob Neville.
One name missing from the line-up is that of Jordan Tresson. As GT Academy continues to unearth incredible talent year-after-year the competition within the Nissan squad intensifies and only the very best will remain Nismo Athletes. Jordan won GT Academy in 2010 and since then has reached his goal of racing at the Le Mans 24 Hours with Nissan.
Jann Mardenborough has just hit the steepest part of his learning curve with the announcement that he will compete in the 2013 FIA European Formula 3 Championship. The 2011 GT Academy winner will race in F3 in order to fast track his education in downforce cars so he is ready to compete in a Nissan-powered LMP2 car at Le Mans this summer. From winning GT Academy in June 2011 to racing at Le Mans in 2013 this will be the shortest path yet from ‘Lounge to Le Mans’ for a Nissan driver.
The GT Academy winner with the most experience and who will join Jann in the Greaves Motorsport LMP2 car at Le Mans is Lucas Ordonez. The Spaniard already has a Le Mans podium on his CV along with a fantastic fifth place at Petit Le Mans in the Nissan DeltaWing. Lucas will also race in the Blancpain Endurance and FIA GT Series where he will be able to pass on what he has learnt to the newest recruits.
“GT Academy continues to push the boundaries,” explained Nissan’s Director of Global Motorsport Darren Cox. “Such is the confidence we have in the skill of the drivers we have discovered through GT Academy we have committed to an all-gamer line-up racing in the full FIA GT and Blancpain series. It will be great to see the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 cars racing at many of the world’s best circuits in premier European GT Championships, alongside all the other top marques. With the coming of the GT-R Nismo road car, Nismo will create the ultimate GT-R for the road, and what better place to develop technology than on the race track. These are exciting times for us.”
With many Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3s competing in competitions across Europe and the majority of all LMP2 cars being ‘Powered by Nissan Nismo’ racing globally in 2013, it looks set to be another full throttle year for Nissan.