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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.”