The 2017 motorsport season is about to start, and on behalf of Nissan, Takao Katagiri, CEO and president of NISMO, has now officially announced Nissan/NISMO’s motorsport activities for 2017. These are as follows:
1. SUPER GT GT500
With sights firmly set on reclaiming the GT500 championship title, Nissan/NISMO will field four newly developed Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 entries in 2017.
Having won the SUPER GT GT500 Championship two years in a row in 2014 and 2015, but missing out on a third consecutive title after leading the championship until the last event in 2016, NISMO will be back at the track with the driver pairing of Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli in Nissan’s ace car #23.
Fresh from the GT300 class, GT Academy graduate Jann Mardenborough will step up to GT500, making his GT500 debut with TEAM IMPUL together with teammate Hironobu Yasuda. For the first time in seven years, João Paulo de Oliveira will return to KONDO Racing, which took two victories last year, and will team up with Daiki Sasaki. MOLA will continue with the same strong driver combination from last year, with veteran Satoshi Motoyama challenging the series alongside young gun Katsumasa Chiyo.
Toshikazu Tanaka, corporate vice president of NISMO, remains as Nissan’s team executive director. The complete roster:
#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
Nissan’s new GT500 racer, which incorporates the distinctive design of the standard 2017 Nissan GT-R NISMO, was developed in compliance with the 2017 SUPER GT technical regulations and inherits the competitive and hard-charging spirit of previous incarnations of the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500.
Officially revealed last November, the car has undergone testing in Japan as well as in Sepang, Malaysia. The updates will be made just before the opening round and are expected to result in an even stronger, more competitive GT-R that will build upon the previous championship winning car’s legacy of dominance within the history of motorsports.
2. CUSTOMER RACING PROGRAMS
Nissan / NISMO will be expanding its Customer Racing program, supplying race cars and engines to teams around the globe.
Customer Racing – GT3 Program
The Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 debuted in 2012, and since then 33 cars have been sold to compete in Japan, Europe, the U.S., Australia and China – 20 of which participated in global GT3 race series in 2016. The car took numerous victories world-wide and in the Super Taikyu Series; the GT3 GT-R was crowned ST-X class champion. In 2017, NISMO will continue to support Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 customers by providing vehicles and technical assistance.
While providing technical support to all the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 users in SUPER GT, Super Taikyu, and other championships, Nissan / NISMO will support the teams in the following series:
Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
Nissan/NISMO will continue to support the Bob Neville managed Team RJN NISSAN in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup (Pro Class). The driver lineup once again uses drivers from Nissan’s global motorsport family. The 2015 championship winning pair of Katsumasa Chiyo and Alex Buncombe will team up with GT Academy’s inaugural winner in 2008, Lucas Ordóñez.
# 23 Team RJN NISSAN – Katsumasa Chiyo / Alex Buncombe / Lucas Ordóñez
Team Principal: Bob Neville
Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 / Pirelli
Super GT GT300
NDDP Racing, which focuses on the development of young drivers, will enter the SUPER GT GT300 class with Mitsunori Takaboshi alongside Kazuki Hoshino as his mentor. The operation continues to be managed by B-MAX.
#3 – NDDP RACING – Kazuki Hoshino / Mitsunori Takaboshi
Team Principal: Masahiro Hasemi
B-MAX NDDP GT-R / Yokohama
Super Taikyu Series ST-X
KONDO Racing, which took the 2016 series championship with its ThreeBond Nissan Technical College GT-R, will be aiming for two consecutive titles in the ST-X class this year. Tomonobu Fujii has been named as one of the drivers. This collaboration between KONDO Racing and the Nissan Automobile Technical College is a unique program that combines education with motorsports.
ST-X – #24 – KONDO Racing – Tomonobu Fujii / TBA
Team Principal: Masahiko Kondo
ThreeBond Nissan Technical College GT-R
Development of Newly Evolved Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 (R35)
Nissan/NISMO will be developing a newly evolved Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 (R35), with an eye towards 2018, in order to greatly enhance its competitiveness in the increasingly fierce GT3 market. Masataka Yanagida and Michael Krumm will serve as development drivers and development will be undertaken while carrying out tests in both Japan and Europe.
Customer Racing – Engine Supply Programs
Nissan/NISMO will be expanding its engine supply programs. Newly introduced programs include IMSA’s Daytona Prototype international (DPi) and LM P1 engine supply to a privateer for the FIA World Endurance Series (WEC). Domination in the WEC LM P2 class ended in championship success last year after 37 wins total over the past five seasons, and the company will keep supplying LM P3 engines as sole engine supplier of the globally growing class.
- IMSA Daytona Prototype international (DPi)
A new program sees Nissan/NISMO supplying a GT3 spec based VR38 engine prepared for Daytona Prototype international (DPi) cars to Extreme Speed Motorsport (ESM), based in Florida, USA. The team takes part in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with two cars.
- FIA World Endurance Championship LM P1
Another new program has Nissan/NISMO supplying a V6 Turbo 3.0 liter engine (VRX30A evo.) to ByKolles Racing Team, a private team based in Greding, Germany. The team will take part in the LM P1 class of the FIA WEC in 2017.
- LM P3 Series
NISMO will continue to provide VK50 engines (111 units sold in the past three years) and technical assistance to teams competing in the LM P3 class of European Le Mans Series, Michelin Le Mans Cup, and Asian Le Mans Series etc. With a boom in the LM P3 class continuing this year, Nissan’s presence on the grid will be significantly increased as the manufacturer looks to dominate once again.
3. DRIVER DEVELOPMENT
Nissan/NISMO continue to support young drivers’ participation in race series.
In addition to the previously listed entry to the SUPER GT GT300 class, the manufacturer will support Mitsunori Takabosi and his B-MAX Racing Team Japanese Formula 3 entry via NDDP. As Takaboshi’s executive advisor, the team will welcome GT500 driver, Satoshi Motoyama.
#23 – B-MAX Racing Team with NDDP – Mitsunori Takaboshi
Team Principal: Masashi Miyata
Executive Advisor: Satoshi Motoyama
B-MAX NDDP F3
4. OTHER NOTABLE ACTIVITIES: AUSTRALIA SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP
In Australia, Nissan will continue to contest the Supercars Championship with Rick and Todd Kelly alongside Michael Caruso and new driver Simona de Silvestro with the Nissan Altima.
5. PROGRAM SUMMARY
Takao Katagiri, CEO and president of NISMO:
“We will be competing in this year’s SUPER GT GT500 class with a new model based upon the 2017 spec GT-R NISMO. We have a firm determination to retake the series championship and, with this in mind, we have reevaluated our cars, drivers, organization and so on in order to ensure we are more prepared than ever. Our team structure consists of four seriously competitive teams that will all be aiming for the title. We will be pouring our souls into this season so we hope to continue to receive the passionate support that we have received from our fans thus far.
“We will also be strengthening our global Customer Racing programs. While we continue to support Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 customers around the world, we will also begin working on the development of newly evolved Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. You can expect to see a new state-of-the-art, highly competitive machine that will ensure customers continue to choose the GT-R from amongst the increasingly large variety of European manufacturers and other rival companies’ GT3 vehicles.
“Furthermore, we will also be expanding our engine supply programs. We will be providing highly competitive racing engines and the technical support that we have cultivated throughout the LM P2 to numerous teams to facilitate their success in acclaimed race categories around the world, including the Daytona Prototype International (DPi), the LMP1 (privateer), and various LMP3 series.
“In addition to participating in motorsports, the NISMO brand feels that an important part of its mission is to provide accessible motorsports experiences and participatory opportunities to all of our customers. As a part of that effort we have been proactively expanding our range of NISMO road cars and occasions for driving experiences. We are committed to delivering a wide range of excitement to our fans through motorsports.”