Nissan have confirmed that GT Academy winners Jann Mardenborough and Lucas Ordonez will step up to the manufacturer’s LMP1 programme for 2015.
Long-standing NISMO driver Michael Krumm will also drive the new front-engined Nissan GT-R LM NISMO in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship.
GP3 race winner Mardenborough was announced as Nissan’s latest LMP1 recruit at the Chicago Motor Show, while Le Mans podium finisher Ordonez was simultaneously revealed in Yokohama, Japan. They will join Harry Tincknell, Tsugio Matsuda and Olivier Pla as the confirmed drivers.
2011 GT Academy winner Mardenborough has set the motorsport world alight since he began his competitive career at the Dubai 24 Hours. The 23 year old’s rise from gap year student to professional driver has been nothing short of astounding, and after exemplifying his potential in a multitude of championships including GP3, British GT and at Le Mans earned his place in the team’s full-time FIA WEC line-up.
“I want to show that there is a different route to the top of motorsport, than just years and years of expensive go karting, by winning at Le Mans,” said Mardenborough. “It’s an honour for me to be chosen to compete in LM P1 for Nissan.
“I have raced at Le Mans twice in LM P2 so I have seen the current LM P1 cars at very close quarters out on the track. To think I will be racing one this year is very exciting. The Nissan GT-R LM NISMO looks set to be an historic race car and I get to drive it!”
Ordonez won the first series of GT Academy in 2009 and has since progressed through the sportscar racing ladder. He made his Le Mans debut in 2011 with Signatech Alpine, finishing second in the LMP2 class. He has since competed in Super GT (winning one race) and co-piloted the revolutionary Nissan ZEOD RC at last year’s Le Mans, completing the first ever all-electric lap of the famous Circuit de la Sarthe. He will join Japan’s Tsugio Matsuda in the team’s third car that will take part in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
In addition, Ordonez’ exploits in Super GT have earned him a drive in the championship’s top class, driving a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500.
“When I received the call telling me I would race the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO and the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 it was like winning GT Academy all over again,” said Ordonez. “Last year was incredible, racing in Japan and learning all about the unique racing culture over there. Now I get to race in the top class in Japan and at Le Mans I will jump into the ultimate GT-R!
“I know it sounds like a cliché but GT Academy really does turn dreams into reality, giving people a real chance to get their dream job, just like I did. For sure you have to work hard but when you do the rewards are there. I have never been so excited about the start of a new season.”
Joining the duo will be Michael Krumm, one of NISMO’s most experienced drivers. Krumm partnered Ordonez and Mardenborough at the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans, and will bring a wealth of racing experience to a relatively young squad of drivers. Krumm’s career dates back to 1988, and since then he has amassed championship wins in Super GT and the FIA GT1 World Championship.
Darren Cox, Global Head of Brand, Marketing and Sales at NISMO commented: “Jann and Lucas have proved their merit as professional racing drivers time and time again, not least with their Le Mans podium finishes. What looks like an overnight success is years of incredibly hard work by Jann, Lucas and the Nissan NISMO team that develop all of the winners of Nissan GT Academy.
“These guys are proof that if you want something badly enough and are prepared to give it everything you’ve got, you will succeed. We have the same ethos with our LM P1 programme. Drivers like Krumm add that extra layer of experience that is vital in a programme like this.”
“We are here to compete at the highest level and we are not here to make up the numbers,” he added. “It’s no accident that people like Mark Webber are racing at Le Mans. This is where you will find the most competitive racing in the world. It is a tough battlefield but we can’t wait to join the fight.”