TechSport Racing is hoping to utilize the early season Pirelli GT4 America races to further develop the new Nissan Z GT4 to North American racing according to team owner Kevin Anderson.
The longtime TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School series entrant has stepped up to serve as the North American development team for the car, which is set for its GT4 class debut in this weekend’s season-opener at Sonoma Raceway.
Powered by a three-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, the Z GT4 took part in last year’s Fuji 24 Hours and other selected Super Taikyu races in Japan prior to its official unveiling at the SEMA Show last November.
TechSport, which is based on the grounds of Virginia International Raceway, was selected as the exclusive team to operate the car in North America this year, ahead of a full customer rollout planned for 2024.
Speaking with Sportscar365, Anderson said a large contingent of personnel from various divisions of the Japanese automaker are on-site this weekend, including 17 engineers alone, to support the team’s two-car effort.
“Right now we’re working really closely with Nissan North America, Nissan Japan and NISMO. Everybody’s represented here,” Anderson explained.
“We’re the team to shake down, give feedback and improve what needs to be improved.
“Since December, we’ve made so many changes and [made] so many things better [for North American racing].
“From oil cooler placements to spring rates and driver ergonomics… These cars were designed in Japan and the average size of the driver is much smaller there. Big changes were made.
“My team is really here to find any faults in the car so they can be improved and made better before it goes to [full] customer racing.”
Anderson said the diversity of tracks in North America has been one of the challenges so far, especially considering the Z GT4 was developed exclusively in Japan.
“I think the biggest hurdle we have is that they’ve already developed the car but it was on such limited types of tracks in Japan,” he explained.
“They come to America and I take them to Sebring and it’s like, the car is just not designed to handle the bumps of these tracks.
“We were able to make changes from testing at Sebring before it got homologated but we figure we’ll do three events and maybe request some changes.
“That’s the thing. The U.S. tracks are so different than [others] around the world.”
TechSport’s two Z GT4s are being driven by the Am class pairing of Eric Powell and Colin Harrison plus former GT Academy winner Bryan Heitkotter and Tyler Stone, in a Pro-Am entry.
It comes in addition to the team’s existing TC America effort and new venture into the Toyota GR Cup.
“We’re teaching Japan what a customer team goes through,” Anderson said. “Their only experience is full-blown factory efforts in Super GT, which is basically like F1.
“That’s what we’re here to do: show them customer racing, what a team has to deal with.
“The guys from Japan have been great. Nissan is super committed to this program. I have guys from Japan at my shop here for a week or two since December doing updates. They’ve been in every test day with us.
“The car is a great car with some really great potential. There’s so many great things about the car. We just have to fine tune it.”
While still early in the development process, Anderson has given praise to the manufacturer, particularly Nissan North America, for its full support in the project.
“I don’t think there’s a GT4 manufacturer more committed over next three years than Nissan right now,” he said. “Between their activation on-site and the level of support they’re going to have…
“Right now we have a small trailer that follows us wherever we go with every part we need. Next year we’ll have a full semi just handling manufacturer parts.
“They are committed. I’m blown away by the support.
“They really want the car to be successful and want it to sell and provide the support. I’m sure next year there will be contingency and manufacturer support for everybody that’s involved. It’s pretty impressive.”