After a season of astonishing success in 2011, which saw Nissan win championship titles across the board, the 2012 season is revved up and ready to go next week at the Dubai 24 Hours.
There will be three Nissan cars in action in Dubai, all with very different reasons for being there, but all focused on success.
Nissan’s brand new GT3 car, the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, will compete in the A6 class in the hands of Michael Krumm (GER), Tom Kimber-Smith (UK), Franck Mailleux (FRA) and Alex Buncombe (UK). Those four drivers represent championships won in 2011, namely FIA GT1 World Driver’s Championship, the Le Mans Series LMP2 title, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup LMP2 title and the Blancpain Endurance Series’ GT4 crown. Dubbed the ‘Champions Car’ the GT3-specification Nissan GT-R celebrates the successes of 2011 while continuing the new car’s intensive test and development programme.
“2011 was a great year for Nissan and I am very much looking forward to racing the new GT3 car in Dubai,” commented Krumm. “The Nissan GT-R took us all the way to the top in 2011 so I hope we can have a good race with the new car. It’s great to celebrate a successful 2011 for Nissan and I’m excited to see how the GT Academy guys get on in the ‘All-Gamer’ car.”
Perhaps the most exciting entry is of course the Nissan 370Z with an all-gamer driver line-up. The four winners of Nissan/PlayStation GT Academy will race together in the first ever all-gamer crew in a major race. The most recent winners, Jann Mardenborough (UK) and Bryan Heitkotter (USA), earned their place in the Dubai 24 Hours when they won GT Academy last summer. Since then they have been on one of the steepest learning curves imaginable to make sure they are up to speed for such a daunting race. Joining the newest recruits will be two ‘old hands’, the winners of Seasons One and Two, Lucas Ordonez (ESP) and Jordan Tresson (FRA). Lucas was the new boy in Dubai in 2009 but just three years later he is an international champion.
“It’s a good feeling for me to go back to Dubai as this is where it all really started for me, just three years ago,” said Ordonez. “I know that Jann (Mardenborough) and Bryan (Heitkotter) will be very nervous but also very excited to take their GT Academy prize and compete in this race. I also know what an intensive development programme they have been on so they are more than ready for the challenges ahead of them. I hope that, along with Jordan (Tresson), I can help them to a good result. It’s going to be a tough race due to the heat but I am convinced that Jann and Bryan will prove that they are real racing drivers now, just as Jordan and I did last year.”
There will be a third Nissan competing in the race next week as RJN Motorsport will run a second Nissan 370Z for Humaid Al Masaood (UAE), Richard Meaden (UK) and Tetsuya Tanaka (JAP).
“I have competed successfully in the previous two Dubai 24hr with my own team so to be invited to race with Nissan and their three car assault is a great honour and a new challenge,” said Al Masaood. “Although I am now racing in the USA there is something very special about racing in my local 24hr as it is this race that has helped me develop as a driver. I am looking forward to working with Nissan and my co-drivers and hopefully delivering a great result. It is really encouraging to see Nissan bringing talented young drivers into motorsport through GT Academy and I am keen to see drivers from the Gulf region be given the opportunity to start racing through such a professional programme.”
The 24-hour race gets underway in Dubai next Friday.