Wednesday, 23 September 2015
By Marshall Pruett
Nissan Motorsports is looking to expand to a three-car program for its 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GT campaign.
“We’re looking to go from two Nissan NISMO GT-R GT3s to three next year, and the third car would be more for a gentleman driver to pair with the young drivers we have in the team,” Nissan Motorsports North America manager Rick Kulach told RACER.
Running in a partnership with Always Evolving and the veteran Aim Autosport team, Nissan had a successful season in PWC GT, with James Davison, ABOVE, winning two races and placing fourth in the championship, and rookie Bryan Heitkotter – whose pace earned a series-based promotion from the Pro-Am GT-A category to full GT class – ably representing the manufacturer as a graduate of its GT Academy.
To bolster the team’s chances in 2016, Kulach is working to upgrade one or more of its GT-R GT3s to newer 2015 models.
“That’s what we’re working on for next year,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to have the 2015s for all of our entries, but there are some updates on the new model in the aerodynamics that would be helpful to have.”
With IMSA moving to full GT3 specifications for its GT Daytona class next year, Kulach said that Nissan is considering bringing the twin-turbo V6 GT-R GT3 platform to sample some of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s marquee races.
“We might look at one or two of the big races because IMSA has some iconic events,” he said. “But the season-long costs in Pirelli World Challenge are more aligned with our program. And with PWC, we’re the top class, and with GT-R being a halo car, it fits being represented in the top class.”
Kulach also reports the upgrade to newer GT-R GT3 models in GT models will be complemented by an outright model change in PWC’s Touring Car class.
“We’re no longer selling the Nissan Altima coupe, so the Altimas are done in Touring Car,” he confirmed. “The 370Zs are now eligible in TC, so we’re developing them to replace the Altimas next year.”
In the GT class Johnny O’Connell was the race winner in the Cadillac ATS_VR GT3, the pair of AIM Autosport prepped Nissan GT-R GT3’s finished 2nd and 3rd. The #33 of JD Davison finishing in 2nd followed by #05 Bryan Heitkotter. The R.Ferri Motorsport #61 Ferrari driven by Olivier Beretta finished in 12th after staring the race in 13th.
In the GTS class Toronto’s Mark Wilkins went flag to flag for the race win in his Kia Racings Kia Optima.
In the GT class Johnny O’Connell made it 2 for 2 on the weekend with the flag to flag race win. In 2nd place was #33 JD Davison making it two 2nd place finishes for the weekend while team mate #05 Bryan Heitkotter finished 7th. Olivier Beretta finished in 10th place for R.Ferri Motorsport.
In the GTS class Saturday’s race winner Mark Wilkins finished 5th .