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Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Expands into Blancpain Sprint Cup

Nissan GT Academy Team RJN expands into Blancpain Sprint Cup…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency/SRO

Photo: Vision Sport Agency/SRO

Nissan GT Academy Team RJN will take on the entire Blancpain GT Series with two factory-backed Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s this year, with the Bob Neville-led squad confirming its lineup for both the Sprint and Endurance Cups.

Defending Blancpain Endurance champion Alex Buncombe will team with 23-year-old Japanese driver Mitsunori Takaboshi for the entire 10-round championship in the team’s Pro Cup entry and will be joined by Lucas Ordonez in the Endurance Cup races.

Sean Walkinshaw, meanwhile, has been confirmed for the entire season in the second car, joined by 2014 Nissan GT Academy International winner Ricardo Sanchez in the Sprint Cup and 2015 GT Academy winners Matt Simmons (International) and Romain Sarazin (Europe) for Endurance.

The second Nissan will run in the Silver Cup for the Sprint events, while being entered in Pro-Am for the Endurance races.

It marks a significant shakeup in driver lineups for the British squad, with Buncombe’s 2015 title-winning teammates, Katsumasa Chiyo and Wolfgang Reip, both not returning.

Chiyo remains on board as a Nissan factory driver, having been promoted to the GT500 class in Super GT, although Reip, along with numerous other GT Academy graduates, are no longer with the program.

Out of the dozen-plus GT Academy drivers that raced last year, only Ordonez, Sanchez, Jann Mardenborough (Super GT) and Bryan Heitkotter (Pirelli World Challenge) have been announced as returning.

It leaves a number of standout gamer-to-racers, such as Mark Shulzhitskiy, Florian Strauss and Gaetan Paletou without rides for 2016.

Nissan has also confirmed a return to the Nurburging 24, with the lineup yet to be announced.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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