With two cars entered in the Pro Cup, Nissan is going to be a serious contender in this year’s Blancpain Endurance Series.
One of those entries is MRS GT Racing, which sees JRM factory driver Craig Dolby set for a full-season campaign in the GT-R NISMO GT3.
The 26-year-old Brit is coming off a productive official pre-season test at Paul Ricard.
“It’s our first chance to work together here at Paul Ricard and everything is going really well. [It was] the first test we’ve done with the 2015 car,” he told Sportscar365.
“It’s as well the first time all three of us are together and we’re all driving very similar and getting the same feeling from the car, which is very encouraging.”
While former single-seater racer Sean Walkinshaw and Dolby himself were already confirmed for entire Blancpain GT Series, the duo was joined by their Endurance teammate Martin Plowman in Paul Ricard.
“I’ve grown up with Martin [Plowman] in karting from probably eight years old, so to have him as a teammate is really nice,” Dolby said.
“We’re a young team with a lot of potential. We might be the underdogs to start with, but we’ll see where we end up.”
Plowman, Dolby and Walkinshaw make up one of the youngest lineups in the series with an average age of 24 years, but their MRS Nissan will face fierce competition in the Pro Cup, which is stronger than ever.
“You look at the field, and this is why I wanted to be in Blancpain all along. We pushed so hard for this project to happen.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to prove yourself right at the very top of GT racing. There are just so many Pro Cup cars, very high quality and that’s exactly where we want to be.”
MRS GT Racing has been competing with McLaren over the last couple of seasons, but was temped by the conditions that JRM and Nissan could offer moving forward.
“Obviously JRM helps all the Nissan teams. My engineer who I’ve now worked with for over a year is from JRM, but everything else is just MRS,” Dolby said.
“They are a great team that have proved themselves in GT Racing. It’s not really a shock for them to do this; they are already at the top of the game.”
Nissan GT Academy Team RJN is also stepping up to the Pro Cup with one car this year, effectively doubling the GT-R’s chances on a good result with Alex Buncombe, Wolfgang Reip and Katsumasa Chiyo sharing the wheel of the second 2015-spec car.
“With two teams fielding a car each we’ve got a fantastic feel to really push ourselves to a new limit for the new Nissan GT-R,” Dolby said.
“The car is also going to be running in the German ADAC GT Masters, we’ll be getting a lot more data and feedback now that they’re also using Pirellis.”
Next to the promising lineups, the arrival of the 2015-spec Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 should also contribute to the teams’ chances this year.
“It’s always nice to have a year in advance really for what we are doing for next year,” Dolby said referring to the new wave of GT3 machinery that is expected for 2016.
“Obviously you look at some of the potential cars for next year and we’re going to be there or there about.
“The new car is quite a lot different, the brakes are a big improvement on last year’s car, it’s slightly lighter, making it little more nimble in the slower corners and easier on its tires.
“We’ve not really gone for lap time; we just made it better to race.”
The new car already showed its potential by posting the unofficial quickest time in Balance of Performance testing in the build up to the official test days.
“Obviously with the BoP, you can’t go and build a car that’s five seconds quicker than everyone else, it’s all going to be level,” he said.
“You play to the strengths of your car, like tire wear, brakes, just little bits that hopefully will make the difference, and that’s what Nismo have done over the winter.
“It’s a good thing that SRO always has a box in every car, and they’ll just adjust the parameters according to the data they retrieve from it. You can’t hide anything anymore.”