Alex Buncombe and Lucas Ordonez have left Nissan’s motorsports program after a decade with the Japanese manufacturer.
Both drivers confirmed their exits from the NISMO operation on Tuesday, while a Nissan statement confirmed that it would not renew the drivers’ contracts for 2019.
It cited the brand switching its international motorsport focus from GT racing to the ABB FIA Formula E Championship as a reason for the non-renewals.
Buncombe joined Nissan in 2007 while Ordonez arrived the following year after winning the inaugural PlayStation GT Academy gamer-to-racer competition.
They went on to represent Nissan extensively in the Blancpain GT Series, Nürburgring 24 and other high-profile races with the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 package.
“Both drivers have given incredible service to Nissan over the past ten years, and we thank them for their efforts and wish them the best of luck in the future,” read the statement.
“They have enjoyed a successful 10-year championship-winning career with the brand with Ordonez claiming the first-ever Nissan PlayStation GT Academy competition and Buncombe acting as a key mentor for many of the competition’s graduates.”
Buncombe, who won the 2015 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup drivers’ title, said the absence of a European factory program next year contributed to the decision.
“It’s been a fantastic journey with the Nismo brand but I feel that now is time for a change,” said the Englishman.
“It’s unfortunate that their GT programs have become more limited and now with no European
Factory program I felt the time was right to explore new opportunities.
“We are enjoying a great era for GT racing and in particular GT3, so I’m excited about what the future could hold for the next chapter of my career.”
Ordonez said that he will “keep great memories” from his time with the manufacturer, which included winning the Endurance Cup Pro-Am title in 2013 and two class podiums at the 24 Hours of Le Mans driving Nissan-powered LMP2 machinery.
“During these years we have been able to accomplish many triumphs and achievements together, but it is time to search for new challenges, and be able to continue pursuing my professional and personal goals,” said Ordonez.
“This is not a time to be sad but instead a time of excitement, looking forward to be able to work with new people and build new relationships to accomplish our new goals.”
Buncombe and Ordonez partnered with Matt Parry for this year’s Endurance Cup with Nissan customer squad RJN Motorsport.
The trio scored a best result of fifth in the six-hour race at Paul Ricard while Buncombe and Parry, who appeared in all races, finished 21st in the drivers’ standings.
Nissan’s statement confirmed that the second-generation Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 will continue to race in customer hands next year, while RJN’s plans for 2019 are yet to be announced.