With practically a month left to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and to the Journée Test, Nissan finally completed their tests with the new GT-R LM NISMO model at the NCM Motorsports Park, in the United States. Between the amount of questions regarding the car and how well it could fare in France, a thing is already certain between the drivers: Marc Gené is out of the Le Mans lineup.
The experienced Spaniard, an ex-Formula One driver and with good runs for Audi and Peugeot at Le Mans, has stepped back of his driving duties to be in an advisory role for the Japanese manufacturer, while Mark Shulzhitskiy, one of the GT Academy graduates, goes for the No. 21 car, the one which will contest only the Le Mans round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Shulzhitskiy isn’t jumping in the cockpit of an LMP1 car out of nowhere. Since his entry in top level motorsport, in 2013, he always split his driving duties into GT3 Nissans and Nissan-powered LMP2 cars, and fifth place in the LMP2 class at the 2013 6 Hours of Bahrain can prove his ability right at the start. In 2014, he was able to do more prototype racing, achieving three top five finishes, two in the European Le Mans Series and one with OAK Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the debut race of the Ligier JS P2.
The Russian promise was with the Nissan crew at Kentucky testing in the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, while Gené didn’t made any laps in the front-engine LMP1 car, so he already has knowledge of the curious prototype. Shulzhitskiy’s inclusion in the Nissan team also shakes up the driver lineups, becoming something like this:
No. 21 (LM entry) – Tsugio Matsuda/Lucas Ordoñez/Mark Shulzhitskiy
No. 22 (FIA WEC entry) – Michael Krumm/Harry Tincknell/Alex Buncombe
No. 23 (FIA WEC entry) – Jann Mardenborough/Max Chilton/Olivier Pla
PHOTOS: GT Academy