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GT Academy Graduates Well Represented in the 2016 Race Season

TOKYO, Japan (February 26, 2016) – Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and NISMO have released their 2016 racing program, which lists the races it plans to participate in, as well as details regarding engine suppliers. It also includes the latest information on GT Academy graduates who are now part of the NISMO racing team.

Lucas Ordóñez (2008 European Champion)

Ordóñez, who drove last season in Japan’s Super GT (GT500 Class), the F3 Championships and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be returning to Europe this year to compete in a full season of the Blancpain Endurance Cup (Pro Car Class). He will be piloting a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 with past co-drivers Alex Buncombe and Mitsunori Takaboshi. Their mission will be to defend the team title won by Wolfgang Reip the previous year. The first round of the series begins at Monza (Italy) on April 23-24.

Jann Mardenborough (2011 European Champion)

Mardenborough will take Ordóñez’s place in the Super GT and the All Japan F3 Championships. He will be part of the NDDP racing team in the Super GT Series, piloting the B-MAX NDDP GT-R. Mardenborough, who participated in the FIA World Endurance Championships last season, will be teamed with Kazuki Hoshino, who trained Ordóñez. The first race is set for the Okayama International Circuit on April 9-10. In the All Japan F3 Championships, Mardenborough will drive for B-MAX Racing in the number 22 car. This series gets under way at Suzuka on April 23-24.

Bryan Heitkotter (2011 US Champion)

Last year, Heitkotter raced in the U.S. Pirelli World Challenge and placed 10th overall in the championships. He will be returning to the series this year with his sights set on taking the title. His car will be the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, and the opening round of the season will be at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Ricardo Sanchez (2014 International Champion)

Sanchez competed in the Blancpain Endurance Series last year. This season, he’ll be returning to the Blancpain series, but will go wheel-to-wheel with his rivals in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup (Silver Cup Class). He’ll need to adjust from the strategy-filled world of endurance racing to Sprint racing, which will be focused primarily on speed, talent and the setup of his Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 racecar. The opening round will be at Misano (Italy) on April 8-10.

Matthew Simmons (2015 International Champion) and Romain Sarazin (2015 European Champion)

Last fall, Simmons and Sarazin went from being top players of Gran Turismo to professional race drivers. For 2016, they will continue to live the dream in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup (Pro Am Class) of Europe. Although they lack experienced, their enthusiasm and talent should result in a respectable rookie year. The opening round will be at Monza (Italy) on April 23-24.

Help us root on all the GT Academy graduates in 2016!