Nissan Motorsport have announced all of their motorsport commitments for 2017 in one clean sweep in an announcement with plenty of points to talk about, particularly in the Blancpain GT series.
Nissan have reduced their entry to a single Nissan GT-R GT3 that will only race in the endurance cup. It will be entered under the RJN banner and has a formidable line-up. Stalwart Alex Buncome is joined by the ever popular Katsumasa Chiyo and the inaugural GT academy winner Lucas Ordonez. All three are gold ranked, and the trio have all had their fair share of success in Europe. Chiyo-san returns after his famously good season in 2015 in which he produced a stunning drive at the Bathurst 12 hours. He then went on to win the Blancpain Endurance Series (as it was then called) partnering the ever impressive Buncombe and Wolfgang Reip, Ordonez has produced some impressive drives himself, such as at Paul Ricard last year where he made up 25 places in 2 hours. It is easy to be deceived by the eye catching lineup though. Nissan have very strictly listed the RJN-ran programme as a customer-ran car, and the GT academy banner has been dropped. Furthermore the Pirelli World Challenge effort has come to an end after two years. This could be for all manner of reasons, which will be detailed in another article.
In Super GT, Mitsunori Takaboshi will join the returning Kazuki Hoshino, who is the son of Kazuyoshi, in GT300, although this will not be the the only Nissan entered in the class. The former, one of the few young Nissan proteges who wasn’t a GT academy winner, effectively replaces Jann Mardenborough. The 25 year old Welshman moves up to GT500 and joins Hironobu Yasuda in the #12 Team Impul GT-R GT500 (aka ‘the blue car’). Yasuda has often been overshadowed by his teammates, but now has an opportunity to prove his worth as Mardenborough, the 2011 GT academy winner, learns the ropes in GT500. On the other hand the only change for the Motul Autech car (‘the red car’) is the number, returning to the #23 after failing to win a third championship on the trot. However despite this still expect a largely inevitable title challenge from Ronnie Quinterelli and Tsugio Matsuda, with the duo both having exemplary records in Super GT.
João Paulo de Oliveira returns to Kondo Racing after seven years driving the blue car to partner Daiki Sasaki in the Forum Engineering machine. Sasaki, 25, may now have his best chance to earn a GT500 title, although he is still relatively young. Chiyo-san and veteran Satoshi Motoyama, entering his 22nd season in the sport, will pilot the S-Road Mola Entry. Masataka Yanagida won’t be racing in GT500, but will still be involved at Nismo (more on that later). Admittedly this entire line-up quickly turned in to a badly kept secret, and has been expected since December, but that takes nothing away from the fact that the GT500 lineup can’t be described in any other way except world class, regardles of if you are a Nismo fan or not.
In V8 Supercars there will be a Nissan Altima apiece for Todd Kelly, his brother Rick, Micheal Caruso and and Simona de Silvestro. In Super Taikyu a yet-to-be-announced driver will join Tomonobu Fujii in a GT3 spec GT-R ran by Kondo racing. The 36 year old was replaced at Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama by the aformentioned Yanagida, and will drive a D’Station sponsored Porsche in Super GT in 2017. Mitsunori Takaboshi will take part in a full season of JAF formula 3. Furthermore Nissan have announced an all new GT-R GT3 for 2018, which will be tested by Micheal Krumm and Yanagida, who clearly hasn’t completely quit the Nissan ranks. Nismo will also supply engines for all LMP3 cars, the sole ByKolles LMP1-L entry and the Nissan DPi in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
All in all this is an exciting and talking point filled announcement that will surely lead to more Anticipation for the upcoming season, as the popular marque try yet again for as much success as possible in motorsport.
The Driver Lineups are as follows:
#23 – NISMO – Tsugio Matsuda / Ronnie Quintarelli
Team Principal: Yutaka Suzuki
MOTUL AUTECH GT-R / Michelin
#12 – TEAM IMPUL – Hironobu Yasuda / Jann Mardenborough
Team Principal: Kazuyoshi Hoshino
Calsonic IMPUL GT-R / Bridgestone
#24 – KONDO Racing – Daiki Sasaki / João Paulo de Oliveira
Team Principal: Masahiko Kondo
Forum Engineering ADVAN GT-R / Yokohama
#46 – MOLA – Satoshi Motoyama / Katsumasa Chiyo
Team Principal: Toshiomi Oeki
S Road CRAFTSPORTS GT-R / Michelin
#3 – NDDP RACING – Kazuki Hoshino / Mitsunori Takaboshi
Team Principal: Masahiro Hasemi
B-MAX NDDP GT-R / Yokohama
Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
#23 Team RJN NISSAN – Katsumasa Chiyo / Alex Buncombe / Lucas Ordóñez
Team Principal: Bob Neville
Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 / Pirelli
ST-X – #24 – KONDO Racing – Tomonobu Fujii / TBA
Team Principal: Masahiko Kondo
ThreeBond Nissan Technical College GT-R
#23 – B-MAX Racing Team with NDDP – Mitsunori Takaboshi
Team Principal: Masashi Miyata
Executive Advisor: Satoshi Motoyama
B-MAX NDDP F3
Photo Courtesy of Nismo.com.