Nis­san driv­ers leave WANT THE LAT­EST UP­DATES? FOL­LOW US AT

Com­pre­hen­sive mo­tor­sport in­sur­ance prod­ucts to keep you on track;

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Nis­san has opted to re­lease a num­ber of its GT Academy driv­ers from con­tract for this com­ing sea­son. Rus­sian driver Mark Shulzhit­skiy, Gae­tan Pale­tou and Wolf­gang Reip have all been dropped by the Ja­panese brand. Shulzhit­skiy won GT Academy in 2012 and raced at Le Mans with the ill-fated GT-R LM NISMO LMP1 pro­ject. Pale­tou [2014 Academy win­ner] raced in the Euro­pean Le Mans Se­ries’ LMP3 class last year. Reip [Euro­pean Academy win­ner in 2012] be­came the first driver to do an al­l­elec­tric lap of Le Mans in the ZEOD RC in 2014 and also com­peted in Bri­tish GT where he helped Sir Chris Hoy to his first GT3 podium at Spa.

The new Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship sea­son is burst­ing in to life with teams out putting their first de­cent mileage on their 2016 chal­lengers and al­ready many lessons have been learned.

Most of the lead­ing run­ners have quite sig­nif­i­cant test­ing pro­grammes planned ahead of the new sea­son – much more so than in pre­vi­ous years. While the fac­tory Honda team and Eurotech, along with Team Parker Rac­ing, has darted off to Spain to con­duct its mileage, oth­ers are pound­ing the cir­cuits of the United King­dom.

The rea­son that test­ing is more vi­tal than ever this sea­son is the raft of new Rml-built con­trol parts that driv­ers will be us­ing this sea­son.

Af­ter five years of Gprm-built com­po­nents, this isn’t sim­ply a like-for-like re­place­ment. The new parts are dif­fer­ent, ac­cord­ing to the men be­hind the wheel, and the learn­ing process has to be­gin all over again.

Driv­ers have al­ready told me that the dif­fer­ences are huge and they are hav­ing to re­learn the set-ups of even the most com­pet­i­tive cars from 2015. The data carry over is very lit­tle and the pres­sure is on to un­lock the se­crets ahead of any­one else.

Take the or­der that we roughly had in 2015, rip it up and start again –that is the mes­sage that is com­ing across from those in the know.

The new parts aren’t manda­tory. In­deed, when the parts up­grades were an­nounced to­wards the end of 2015, se­ries bosses were adamant about this point. Teams who hit out that they couldn’t af­ford the new bits were told that it wasn’t a prob­lem, be­cause the older-spec parts would still be el­i­gi­ble. If they couldn’t af­ford them, then no bother: stick with the older kit.

That is fine, I sup­pose, but if any racer wants to be right at the cut­ting edge of the com­pe­ti­tion, then they need the lat­est equip­ment. That is just logic.

The only team that will be miss­ing out on the early miles is Team BMR with its Subaru Levorg mod­els. There are very few days off be­ing al­lowed to mem­bers of the Hert­ford­shire crew. It is a good job that the team is un­der­pinned by some of the finest tech­ni­cal minds in the pad­dock and has two of the cat­e­gory’s most suc­cess­ful driv­ers.

Given the clean sheet of pa­per in terms of set-up that most driv­ers are de­scrib­ing so far, they will have a bat­tle on their hands to get up to speed.

All this means that the BTCC could be in for one of its most com­pet­i­tive shootouts for quite some sea­sons in 2016.

ped­aller. He knows the My­gale cars and the tyres so hope­fully he will be run­ning at the front.”

Hieatt said Ger­man driver Car­rie Schreiner will also race for the team at se­lected rounds.

“She’ll be do­ing about four events, the ones that don’t clash with the Ger­man se­ries [ADAC Formel 4],” he said. “The plan is to run two full-time driv­ers this year and Car­rie at some rounds.”

Hoy and Reip (right)

Ex­ter­nally, 2016 BTCC ma­chines look the same

Dou­ble R has two cars filled

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