Nissan GT Academy driver Jann Mardenborough will contest the Spa 24 Hours next month in the wake of his impressive showing at Le Mans last weekend.
The Briton will dovetail his British Formula 3 commitments at Spa with driving a Nissan GT-R for the Academy-backed RJN team in the prestigious round of the Blancpain Endurance Series round through the Belgian meeting on July 25-28. Mardenborough will share one of RJN’s two Nissans with fellow Academy graduates and Blancpain regulars Lucas Ordonez, Wolfgang Reip and Peter Pyzera.
Nissan global motorsport boss Darren Cox said: “It was in the plan that Jann would do Spa before his impressive performance at Le Mans when he did 10 hours in the car [a Greaves Zytek-Nissan].
“We don’t want to pigeon-hole our drivers: Jann could end up racing single-seaters or he could go down the sports car route in prototypes or GT cars. This is like the old days when Jim Clark would jump out of a Formula 2 car straight into a Lotus Cortina touring car.”
Nissan has swapped its driver lineups around for the remainder of the Blancpain Endurance Series, which resumes at Paul Ricard this weekend, by splitting Ordonez and Alex Buncombe.
Buncombe qualified on the front row at the last Blancpain round at Silverstone earlier this month and Ordonez led the opening laps. They then dominated the Pro-Am class with Pyzera on the way to 10th overall. He will now be teamed with Mark Shulzhitskiy and Steve Doherty, the respective winners of last year’s Russian and German Academy competitions.
The official reason for the swap is to help develop Shulzhitskiy and Doherty by placing a more experienced driver alongside them, but it is understood that Nissan and RJN have come under pressure from series boss Stephane Ratel to split up its two best drivers.
The fourth driver alongside Buncombe, Shulzhitskiy and Doherty at Spa will be Chris Buncombe, Alex’s elder brother. The former factory Aston Martin driver and LMP2 class winner at Le Mans has a long history with RJN.
There are no plans to shuffle the driver lineups in the FIA GT Series in which Alex Buncombe and Ordonez and Reip and Shulzhitskiy share the two cars.