Nissan announced Thursday a partnership with Always Evolving to campaign two Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 cars in Pirelli World Challenge, with inaugural Nissan GT Academy North America winner Bryan Heitkotter and Australian open-wheel and GT star James Davison as the drivers.
AIM Autosport will operate the pair of factory-backed entries, which will make their U.S. debut in next month’s season-opener at Circuit of The Americas on March 6-8.
“Nissan couldn’t be happier to have Always Evolving and AIM as Nissan’s partners to campaign the first GT3 spec GT-Rs in the U.S. in Pirelli World Challenge,” said Rick Kulach, Nissan North America Motorsports Manager.
“This partnership is a great opportunity to showcase Bryan’s talents alongside James, who is a rising star in motorsports. It’s exciting to have a GT Academy champion in a great car racing at this level.”
The effort, which was originally tabbed to be run by Andretti Autosport, was taken over by the Ian Willis-led AIM squad at the last minute, which has seen the 2012 GRAND-AM champions in a race against the clock to get both of the cars on the grid for COTA.
AIM has joined forces with the Los Angeles-based Always Evolving Racing, founded by Erik Davis and the late Roger Rodas, which had previously campaigned Mustangs in the GTS class.
“We are extremely excited to partner with Nissan in Pirelli World Challenge,” said Davis. “Our two brands have had a distant relationship for many years, and to be able to now officially launch an effort together bringing the Nissan NISMO GT3 GT-R to North America is humbling to say the least.
“We look forward to showcasing the team, our drivers, the GT Academy and our sponsors in a very competitive platform.”
Heitkotter, 34, won North America’s first gamer-to-racer GT Academy competition in 2011, having since gone onto compete with Doran Racing and CA Sports Team in Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and PWC competition.
Most recently, he finished sixth overall in last month’s CTSC opener at Daytona.
“I have been watching the Pirelli World Challenge gain momentum over the past couple years, and I’m absolutely thrilled to help represent Nissan in this highly competitive series,” Heitkotter said.
“The GT-R has proven to be a spectacular racing car and I can’t wait to see what we can all accomplish together.”
Davison, who took part in last year’s Indianapolis 500 in an AE-backed KV Racing Technology entry, will make his PWC debut alongside his season-long commitments in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship with TRG-AMR.
“We have great confidence in Erik (Davis)’s vision and ability to campaign a competitive car at a high level every race,” added Kulach.
“James Davison is not only a talented young race driver, but he’s also a great sportsman and will be an outstanding representative for the Nissan brand.”