The Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 of Alex Buncombe and Jann MardenboroughEnlarge Photo
There aren’t too many occasions where a driver is denied entry into a series for being too fast, but the winners of the 2012 Nissan GT Academy appear to fall into that category. Its four winning drivers from 2012 have been excluded from competing in the 2013 British GT Championship’s Pro-Am category, which teams pro drivers with inexperienced racers.
Blame it on the success of 2011 Nissan GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough, who raced with professional driver Alex Buncombe in the 2012 British GT Championship’s Pro-Am class. Driving a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, the pair came surprisingly close to capturing the 2012 championship, despite Mardenborough’s lack of competition experience.
Manager of the British GT Championship series, Benjamin Franassovici, admitted to his admiration of the GT Academy series and even praised Nissan’s ability to find “such amazing raw talent.” The new drivers’ inexperience puts them at the lowest performance grade, yet their speed certainly doesn’t reflect this.
Based on this disparity, Franassovici stated that, “we cannot accept their full season entry for British GT in 2013... 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.”
In other words, the four Nissan GT Academy winners from 2012 (European winner Wolfgang Reip, Russian winner Mark Shulzhitskiy, German winner Peter Pyzera and U.S. winner Steve Doherty) aren’t experienced enough to be pros, but they’re too fast to be considered amateurs. As racers, that’s got to be a frustrating place to sit.
The GT Academy drivers may be down, but don’t count them out. Nissan’s global motorsports director, Darren Cox, promises the graduates will have a great race program ahead of them in 2013, even if it doesn’t include the British GT Championship.