Nissan North America will end its factory presence in IMSA for 2016, and focus its North American sports car efforts primarily in the Pirelli World Challenge next year.
A statement from Nissan reads:
“Nissan North America is consolidating its motorsports presence to showcase the Nissan GT-R in the Pirelli World Challenge GT category for the 2016 season.
“Nissan will continue to support grassroots motorsports efforts in SCCA, NASA and other organizations, as well as continue to retail performance and motorsports components through its Nissan Motorsports Competition Parts arm.
“Nissan wishes to thank Doran Racing for four excellent seasons of competitive racing with the 370Z and also IMSA for their support of road racing in North America.”
Doran Racing campaigned Nissan 370Zs in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class in recent years.
Team boss Kevin Doran thanked Nissan for their support, and didn’t entirely rule out a Daytona appearance.
“I want to thank Nissan USA for all of its support over the last five years with our IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge program. Now we are looking for a viable partner to team up with for both long- and short-term. We have two cars that are ready for Daytona if a partner or partners can be found,” Doran said in a statement to Sportscar365.
The pullout announcement would hurt the Nissan GT Academy North American drivers, several of whom came through the Continental Tire Challenge team last year.
Steve Doherty, Nic Hammann, Nick McMillen and Bryan Heitkotter all made starts, although Heitkotter also ran a full season in World Challenge last year between the GTA and GT ranks.
Additionally, BJ Zacharias and Brad Jaeger starred at times during the 2015 season. They didn’t win any races but were regulars on the podium, with Jaeger scoring a pole position at VIR and Zacharias putting in several storming comeback finishes to end second or third overall.
Nissan, in partnership with Always Evolving Racing and AIM Autosport, is expected to have at least two and potentially three GT-Rs in World Challenge next season. Heitkotter and James Davison were the two drivers there this season.
It’s believed Nissan did not come to an agreement to continue with IMSA as an Official Automotive Partner. With this news, it is unclear whether any GT-Rs would be able to race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, as had been rumored earlier this winter.
The manufacturer, however, will be present in the Prototype class, at least in the opening two WeatherTech Championship races of the season, with SMP Racing’s Nissan-powered BR01 and the DragonSpeed Oreca 05 Nissan, which are slated to compete at Daytona and Sebring, respectively.