– Nissan global motorsport and performance division Nismo to enter factory Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 in 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour
– Nissan Motorsport V8 Supercar driver and two-time Bathurst 1000 winner Rick Kelly to lead driver line-up
– Nissan and Nismo announce new ‘Nismo Global Driver Exchange’ initiative, entering ‘Nismo Athlete Global Team’ in 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour
MELBOURNE, Australia / YOKOHAMA, Japan (17 July 2013) – Nissan Motorsport V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly will drive in the Bathurst 12 Hour as part of the company’s new ‘Nismo Global Driver Exchange’.
Kelly, driver of the #15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima in the V8 Supercars Championship and winner of the Bathurst 1000 in 2003 and 2004, will steer a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 in the endurance event, entered and prepared by Nismo’s own factory team from Japan as the ‘Nismo Athlete Global Team’.
The decision by Nismo to contest the Bathurst 12 Hour is testament to the growing stature of this event on the world stage, as well as the impact that the Nissan V8 Supercar program has made as the newest addition to Nissan’s global motorsport activities.
Nissan Motorsport became the first new manufacturer to enter the V8 Supercars Championship in over two decades when it announced that it would re-enter the sport with a four-car factory team fielding Nissan Altima V8 Supercars.
“In selecting the Bathurst 12 Hour as a key part of our 2014 racing program, Nissan has further cemented Australasia as a critical element of our global motorsport plans,” said Nissan global motorsport director Darren Cox.
“Mount Panorama is one of the world’s iconic racing circuits and the Nissan GT-R has incredible history there. We are pleased to be at Bathurst with Nissan Motorsport in V8 Supercars this October, and then again with the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 next February for the Bathurst 12 Hour.
“Our Nismo entry in the Bathurst 12 Hour is an important part of our ‘Nismo Global Driver Exchange’ and we are excited to have Rick Kelly as an Australian element of this entry next February.”
It will be Kelly’s maiden start in the Bathurst 12 Hour, but the 2006 V8 Supercars champion has a wealth of experience at the famous Mount Panorama circuit. Kelly has entered Australia’s ‘Great Race’ on 12 occasions, winning in 2003 and 2004.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to race a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 at the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour,” said Kelly.
“The GT-R is an amazing car in its standard form, so in Nismo GT3 race-specification, I think it will be capable of great things.
“I haven’t competed in the Bathurst 12 Hour before, and for me, it’s because I haven’t had the right opportunity. Certainly this one is the right opportunity, and it will be the first time I’ve driven something other than a V8 Supercar in a while.
“Nismo has kept a very keen eye on our V8 Supercars program since we announced we were bringing Nissan back to the sport here in Australia. We’ve had strong and open dialogue with them and I think this is the start of what we can make happen in the future.
“The car will be capable of winning, and Nissan’s history at Bathurst is well documented, especially with the GT-R, aka ‘Godzilla’. We’ll be giving it our best shot.
“It’s exciting that this entry will form part of the Nismo Global Driver Exchange. It’s fantastic that Nissan is not only committed to an entry in the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour, but is also sending drivers from its extensive global motorsport program to the event.”
It will be the first time that a factory Nissan GT-R has competed at Mount Panorama since the early 90s when Jim Richards and Mark Skaife scored back-to-back Bathurst 1000 wins in 1991 and 1992.
The 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour will be held on February 7-9. Further details and drivers for the ‘Nismo Athlete Global Team’ campaign at the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour will be announced at a later date.
NISMO GLOBAL DRIVER EXCHANGE PROGRAM LAUNCHES
– Lucas Ordonez to race in SUPER GT as full driver exchange program gets into gear
– Japanese SUPER GT drivers to race outside of Japan to gain global experience
– New ‘Nismo Athlete Global Team’ to compete in Sepang and Bathurst 12-hour races
– Australian V8 Supercar star Rick Kelly to lead Bathurst 12-hour driver line-up
YOKOHAMA, Japan (17 July 2013) – Nissan and Nismo today announced a wide-ranging new initiative: The Nismo Global Driver Exchange, which will open race car doors all over the world for the company’s roster of racing drivers.
The first Nismo athlete to take advantage of the new initiative is Lucas Ordonez (Spain). Most racing drivers would be thrilled to take part in a SUPER GT race but for a gamer-turned-racer like Lucas this would be a dream come true after ‘racing’ SUPER GT cars in the virtual world for so long. Now, through the Nismo Global Driver Exchange, Lucas is going to race a SUPER GT-class Nissan GT-R in the real world.
The original winner of GT Academy already has an enviable racing CV. Three competitive outings at Le Mans, racing the Nissan DeltaWing at Petit Le Mans, winning the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and now some great performances in the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 have underlined the talent that was discovered by Nissan just a few years ago.
Lucas will head to Japan this month for an official SUPER GT test at Suzuka on 19/20 July. He will then return to race the NDDP Racing Nissan GT-R with Kazuki Hoshino (Japan) and Daiki Sasaki (Japan) in the GT300 class in the Suzuka 1000kms on 17/18 August.
For standalone events, the Nismo Global Exchange drivers will compete in a brand new Nismo works team, based in Yokohama, Japan. This new team will compete as the ‘Nismo Athlete Global Team’ and will have its first race at the end of August, when Wolfgang Reip (Belgium) and Mark Shulzhitskiy (Russia) from GT Academy will join Katsumasa Chiyo (Japan) to race at the Sepang 12 Hours.
“This is just the beginning,” said Shoichi Miyatani, President of Nismo. “We want to spread our young driver talent across the world so they get the best possible experience. It is a pleasure for us to invite the European drivers to race in Japan and to send the Japanese drivers to Europe. We are happy to open these doors for our drivers.”
“We have created this program to give all Nismo drivers the opportunity to gain wider experience,” said Nissan’s Director of Global Motorsport, Darren Cox. “It is another step towards a truly global approach to our motorsport activities. It’s tough to jump from one championship to another but our driver development program isn’t supposed to be an easy ride. The cream will always rise to the top. We have shown that our drivers can move from car to car and learn from all of their experiences. Look at Jann Mardenborough who went from a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 to an F3 car to setting incredible lap times in a Nissan-powered LM P2 car at Le Mans.”
The exchanges don’t all go east though. In September Kazuki Hoshino (Japan) will race a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 in the Nurburgring 1000kms. This follows a successful test in Europe earlier in the year in Portugal.
Lucas Ordonez and Steve Doherty (USA) will also travel westwards when they head Stateside to race for Nissan North America. Spaniard Ordonez and American Doherty will race Nissan 370Zs in the GTS World Challenge at Mid-Ohio (2-3 August) and Sonoma, California (23-24 August).
The Nismo Athlete Global Team has also entered the Bathurst 12-hour event in February 2014. Australian V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly, from the local Nissan Motorsport team, has been signed to lead the driver line-up. His teammates from the global pool of Nismo athletes will be decided in the coming months.
There will be other further announcements about the next movements of the Nismo Global Driver Exchange that expects to see eight nationalities racing in five different countries but for now, as Darren Cox explains:
“Sending our inaugural GT Academy winner to Japan is the next logical step in a process that began when Satoshi Motoyama and Michael Krumm raced for us at Le Mans last year. It is very rewarding to be able to work on a truly global level to create these opportunities to maximise all of our assets and we are all excited to see where this initiative will take us.”
Additional Darren Cox quote on Nismo entry at the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour:
“Nissan races extensively all around the world. We race in Japan and have been very successful with the Nissan GT-R over the last two years in the Super GT Championship, being the champions,” said Darren Cox.
“We also race extensively in Europe, both in GT3 with the GT-R, but also in the Le Mans Series and the World Endurance Championship in LMP2.
“With the addition of the V8 Supercar program, Nissan’s motorsport activity is expanding all around the world, really to cement ‘innovation that excites’.
“It’s really a pleasure that we’re able to send some of our international drivers to the Bathurst 12 Hour. It’s an iconic race circuit, not only in Australia, but also around the world.
“We’re very pleased that the GT-R will make its return there, led by our own Rick Kelly, who is very familiar with the circuit who will lead a team of international drivers at the 12 Hour.”
SOURCE: nissan racing press release