Even though Nissan GT Academy Team RJN had its share of participation in the Blancpain Sprint Series in its current and predecessor naming, it doesn’t even get near the effort they put into the Endurance Series, where they conquered titles in the Pro and Pro Am cups in different seasons. Now the story is a bit different, with full commitment to the Blancpain GT Series.
A pair of Nissan GT-R GT3 models will race the whole 2016 season, with one being in the Pro Cup while the other being in the Pro-Am Cup (Endurance) and Silver Cup (Sprint). The Pro-Am car was practically always there as it generally receives the newcomers who graduate in the GT Academy program, while the Pro entry is in fact a recent idea into Nissan’s plans. The 2015 spec GT-R proved itself a reliable car for Endurance racing, but it still has to prove its worth in short races, at least in Europe.
While the car is a tried and trusted package from the last year, the drivers department suffered heavy changes, with specially the trophy lifting trio not returning as a whole. Wolfgang Reip wasn’t retained by Nissan and Katsumasa Chiyo returned to Japan to drive in the GT500 class of Super GT, being up to Alex Buncombe to hold the responsibility of defending the Endurance Series title. He will be partnered by Mitsunori Takaboshi, who comes to Europe after a season of GT racing in Super GT in a GT300 class GT-R where he got two wins last season. For the Endurance races, the first GT Academy winner, Lucas Ordoñez, will complete the lineup of the Pro car after returning from Japan.
The Pro-Am entry will see only one driver returning of all eight that raced in the car last year. Mexican gamer-turned-racer Ricardo Sánchez will be alongside Sean Walkinshaw for the Sprint races, while the British driver will have the company of two of the most recent GT Academy graduates, Matt Simmons and Romain Sarazin. The drivers who were in the cars last year were either contracted by other teams and manufacturers, like Harry Tincknell and Olivier Pla, reallocated like Mardenborough, or simply aren’t in the plans of the Japanese manufacturer anymore, like Gaëtan Paletou, Florian Strauss, Mark Shulzhitskiy and Marc Gassner.