The four winners of the 2012 Nissan GT Academy will not be able to follow their predecessor Jann Mardenborough into the Avon Tyres British GT Championship after the series organisers deemed the potential pace of the new recruits was too great from their grading under the championship’s system.
British GT championship manager Benjamin Franassovici explains; “I have a lot of admiration for GT Academy. It has shown itself to be a great way to source raw talent and turn that into real racing talent as we saw in British GT last year with Jann Mardenborough. However Nissan’s ability to find such amazing raw talent means that we cannot accept their full season entry for British GT in 2013.”
“Their new recruits have very little racing experience so they have to be on the lowest performance grade. Their talent, going on Jann’s speed last year, doesn’t reflect this lack of experience so it is not fair to put them up against our Pro/Gentleman grid, the basis of British GT3. Hats off to Nissan though and I should point out that there are no closed doors here.”
Mardenborough combined with Alex Buncombe for what became a full season entry for RJN Motorsport scoring one victory and further two podiums to enter the final round of the season in contention for the title. However, half way though the two hour season finale, while leading the race and on course to win the championship, the rear suspension of the Nissan GT-R GT3 gave way, ending their season.
Such was Mardenborough’s pace in his first full season of racing that he was named as a BRDC Rising Star, while British GT organisers went to the unusual step of upgrading his standing within the driver grading system at mid-season.
For 2012 four drivers were named as GT Academy winners. Belgian Wolfgang Reip winning the pan-European contest while Mark Shulzhitskiy, Peter Pyzera and Steve Doherty won the GT Academy contests specifically for Russia, Germany and the USA respectively.
A two car attack (potentially under the ‘GT Academy Team RJN’ banner) was planned but the entry was denied, it was announced.
“We don’t know yet if the new guys will be as fast as Jann but British GT have decided not to take the risk,” said Nissan’s global motorsports director Darren Cox. “It’s disappointing that we can’t put any of our new winners into the British GT Championship as it was a great learning experience for Jann. It’s also very flattering at the same time though. Being told you are too fast isn’t something that happens very often in any competitive sport. We’re working hard now to make sure our new graduates have a great race programme this year.”