The first three graduates of GT Academy – Lucas Ordonez, Jordan Tresson and Jann Mardenborough – will compete for Nissan in 2012 in three of the world’s top endurance racing series.
As 26 year-old Spaniard Lucas Ordonez demonstrated at the Le Mans 24 Hours last year, GT Academy is now a proven process, turning out drivers who are ready to race against top international competition. Ordonez is GT Academy’s greatest success story to date and he has now joined Greaves Motorsport’s European Le Mans Series campaign in order to take his next challenge. He will be racing for overall championship honours in an LMP2 Zytek-Nissan alongside Tom Kimber-Smith and Alex Brundle. At the Le Mans 24 Hours he will race with Martin and Alex Brundle.
“2011 was an incredible year for me,” said Ordonez. “I learned a lot with Signatech Nissan. They believed in me and trusted me to get the job done. Nissan has set me my next challenge: an overall championship victory. With two top team-mates and a championship-winning team I am aiming to win the European Le Mans Series outright. The Le Mans 24 Hours will again be a big challenge for me and I’m very much looking forward to racing with Martin (Brundle) as I will learn a lot from him. With Martin, Alex and myself I think we will have one of the strongest line-ups in LMP2. It feels great to be able to say that!”
The driver with the steepest learning curve in 2012 is 23 year-old Frenchman Jordan Tresson. The 2010 GT Academy winner has completed a championship-winning debut season in GT racing but is now stepping up to the LMP2 class of the new FIA World Endurance Championship with Signatech Nissan. He will also follow in Ordonez’s footsteps by competing at the Le Mans 24 Hours this summer.
“I am taking a very big step up from GT racing to LMP2 this year,” said Tresson. “I have tested the car already and it is so quick through the corners! I will have to work hard but I am ready for it. Racing at Le Mans, especially for a French driver, is a special dream. To be racing with a French team, both at Le Mans and in the FIA World Endurance Championship at so many legendary race tracks, is almost more than I can imagine. It will not be an easy year. Our opponents will be tough; the LMP2 class is big and there will be many cars with Nissan engines. I can’t wait to get started on our test programme now as this is shaping up to be the biggest opportunity of my life.”
The youngest and newest recruit is 20 year-old Jann Mardenborough. The British driver won the third season of GT Academy just a few months ago. He has been through the rigorous GT Academy training programme in preparation for a season in the Blancpain Endurance Series where he will race Nissan’s new GT3 race car: the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3.
“A year ago I was on a gap year and hadn’t even applied to enter GT Academy and now I’m heading into my first full season as a racing driver,” explained Mardenborough. “I have had an incredible six months on the GT Academy driver development programme where I have been thoroughly knocked into shape by a group of instructors who I am sure will be lifelong friends. I’m super excited about racing the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. There are no nerves, I just want to crack on and test the new car. Starting the season at Monza in April will be a big moment for me and I can’t wait!”