Nissan announces GT Academy driver line-up
On January 30, Nissan Europe announced its motorsports organisation for 2012, confirming that Lucas Ordoñez (photo centre), Jordan Tresson (photo left), and Jann Mardenborough (photo right) will be driving for Nissan teams this year. All three are European winners of the "GT Academy", the racing driver training project by PlayStation and Nissan. They will enter three different categories of endurance racing, and continue to make their dreams a reality.
Lucas Ordoñez, who was in the spotlight as the first winner of the GT academy in 2008, lived up to and exceeded expectations by achieving second place in the legendary Le Mans 24 hour race and becoming the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) series champion. This year he will be entering the European Le Mans Series (LMS) in the LMP2 class with Greaves Motorsports in a Zytek-Nissan. The team won the LMS title last year and are expected to be front runners in the series. His team mates are Tom Kimber-Smith and Alex Brundle (son of former F1 driver Martin Brundle), and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he will be driving together with the father and son pair of Alex and Martin.
[Comment from Lucas Ordonez]
"2011 was an incredible year for me. I learned a lot with Signatech Nissan, but Nissan has set me my next challenge: an overall championship victory. With two top team-mates and a championship-winning team I am aiming to win the European Le Mans Series outright. And I'm very much looking forward to racing with Martin (Brundle) as I will learn a lot from him."
The 2010 winner, Jordan Tresson, will be taking a big step up from GT cars to Le Mans prototypes this year. He will challenge the newly established FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in the LMP2 class with Signatech Nissan, the team Lucas raced with last year. The famous Le Mans 24 Hours, which features both LMS and WEC entries, should see Lucas and Jordan take to the track in competing Nissan-powered cars.
[Comment from Jordan Tresson]
"I am taking a very big step up from GT racing to LMP2 this year. I have tested the car already and it is so quick through the corners! But I am ready for it. Racing at Le Mans, especially for a French driver, is a special dream. It will not be an easy year. Our opponents will be tough; the LMP2 class is big and there will be many cars with Nissan engines. I can't wait to get started on our test programme now as this is shaping up to be the biggest opportunity of my life."
The rookie who won the GT Academy last year is Jann Mardenborough. He showed his high potential at the Dubai 24 Hours taking a class podium with only half a year of racing under his belt. This season, he will be entering the Blancpain Endurance Series with UK-based RJN motorsports, part of the GT Academy programme since its inception. He will be driving Nissan's new GT3 machine, the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. His challenge will be how to handle the greatly increased performance of the car over the 370Z he raced in Dubai in January.
[Comment from Jann Mardenborough]
"A year ago I was on a gap year and hadn't even applied to enter GT Academy and now I'm heading into my first full season as a racing driver. I have had an incredible six months on the GT Academy driver development programme where I have been thoroughly knocked into shape by a group of instructors who I am sure will be lifelong friends. I'm super excited about racing the new GT-R. There are no nerves, I can't wait for the start of the season at Monza in April!"
The three drivers have taken their first few steps into their new careers. Keep an eye on them as they speed their way through this racing season!