The Nissan NISMO team will be shifting from the bluegrass and bourbon of Kentucky to the wine and cheese of France over the next month, and now has a revised driver lineup aboard its three GT-R LM NISMOs.
Marc Gene, who had been the first driver announced for the program, will now be the first driver out of the car – but not for any poor reasons.
The Spaniard, who is renowned for his test and development skills, will move into an advisory role. It doesn’t officially confirm him as reserve driver, but for all intents and purposes he is.
“It was a tough decision for me to take a step back for the Le Mans 24 Hours,” Gene said in a release. “I am so impressed with the efforts being made by the team and even though I won’t race at Le Mans I will be there to help with my knowledge of the great race.”
Gene’s departure means another Nissan GT Academy graduate, Russian Mark Shulzhitskiy, will get the call-up to the factory team and will be in the third car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He’ll join Lucas Ordonez and Tsugio Matsuda in the No. 21 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.
The remaining six drivers remain the same, although Alex Buncombe (No. 21 to 22) and Olivier Pla (No. 22 to 23) have changed car designations.
The change in lineups read as follows:
No. 21: Tsugio Matsuda, Lucas Ordonez, Alex Buncombe
No. 22: Oliver Pla, Harry Tincknell, Michael Krumm
No. 23: Marc Gene, Max Chilton, Jann Mardenborough
No. 21: Tsugio Matsuda, Lucas Ordonez, Mark Shulzhitskiy
No. 22: Alex Buncombe, Harry Tincknell, Michael Krumm
No. 23: Olivier Pla, Max Chilton, Jann Mardenborough
Of course finalizing the lineups was not all Nissan has done this week. The manufacturer completed a three-day test in Kentucky this week, at the NCM Motorsports Park.
The focus of the test was to complete longer runs with the pair of Nissan GT-R LM NISMOs and continue to build on the performance of the car in the run up to Le Mans.
The Nissan NISMO team is now back at its Indianapolis base to complete the build of the third car before heading to its UK base at Silverstone to make the final preparations for Le Mans.
“Obviously we would like to have more time but we have had three good days of working through a long list of jobs,” said Ben Bowlby, Nissan’s LM P1 Team Principal and Technical Director. “Our focus now moves to the re-preparation of these two cars and completing the build of the third. I’m very happy with the drivers who have all applied themselves well this week and I look forward to getting on track at the Le Mans test day.”
After Silverstone and Spa, the next on-track action for the FIA World Endurance Championship is the Le Mans test day on Sunday, May 31.
For the fifth time in 10 rounds of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season, the three riders at the top of the championship standings shared a podium and while those points tell one story, the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit tell a slightly different tale.
Chase Sexton has been all but perfect during the past 45 days with podium finishes in each of his heats and Triple Crown features. His only stumble during this period was a 10th-place finish in the Indianapolis Main. Last week, Sexton was perfect with wins in both his heat and the feature, although he needed a little help from an Aaron Plessinger mistake to take the top spot on the podium at the end of the night.
Cooper Webb finished fifth at Houston and was beginning to worry ever so slightly about his position in the points. Prior to the race in Tampa, he told NBC Sports that it was time to win and like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield fence, Webb went out and captured it. Following that race, Webb has swept the podium and earned the red plate two weeks ago in Indianapolis. At Detroit, he added two more points on Eli Tomac as the season begins to wind down.
Tomac struggled with a stiff neck at Indianapolis and after a modest third-place showing in Detroit, he revealed he was still suffering a little. Webb and Sexton have been able to close the gap on Tomac in the past 45 days, but one of the main reasons he is so close in the points was a pair of wins that started the year. Seattle is going to be important for the defending champion because Tomac cannot afford to lose any more momentum with seven rounds remaining.
It appeared Jason Anderson was turning things around. He earned his fifth heat win at Detroit, which was also his sixth consecutive race (including features) in which he scored a top-five. A fall in the Detroit Main dropped him a lap off the pace and sent him home with a season-worst finish of ninth, causing a ripple effect in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings.
Justin Barcia was a huge part of the show last week in Detroit. He swapped positions with both Webb and Tomac in the middle stage of the race, which allowed Sexton to close the gap. Barcia finished fourth in that race to earn his third consecutive top-five. He’s been outside the top 10 only once in the first 10 rounds.
Adam Cianciarulo had a great start to the Main. He led a couple of laps before losing a lap and slipping back to eighth in the final rundown. That run was strong enough to elevate him three positions in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit.
The NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings look at the past 90 days in the 250 class in order to have a balanced comparison between the East and West divisions and Hunter Lawrence has been all but perfect this year. At Detroit, he earned his fifth win of the season and kept alive a streak of podium finishes in six rounds. He tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 250 wins one week before the West riders take to the track for back-to-back races at Seattle, Washington and Glendale, Arizona.
The Lawrence brothers are dominating the points in each of their respective divisions, which means the remainder of the field is battling to be best in class.
In the East, that rider is Nate Thrasher, who beat Hunter in a head-to-head matchup in their heat only to finish second in the main when the majority of points were awarded. Thrasher seems to have accepted his position in the championship standings, but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep trying for wins.
Haiden Deegan showed a lot of aggression in his heat last week. He threw a couple of block passes at his teammate Jordon Smith and set up a series of events that kept Smith from making the big show while Deegan settled into second in the preliminary. Deegan was unconcerned about how he raced his teammate and would not let a little controversy keep him from celebrating his second career podium in Detroit.
Jeremy Martin just keeps clicking off solid results. He won his heat last week by making a pass on Deegan and Smith while they were in the heat of their battle. Martin finished fourth in the Main, which means he continues to have only one finish worse than sixth in any of the features or mains.
Smith fell one position in the points standings, but the damage was even worse in SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit. Crash damage in his heat contributed to a last-place finish in that race, for which he earned minimal points. He was not able to advance from the Last Chance Qualifier after stalling his bike in heavy traffic.
Hunter Lawrence – E
[5 Main, 5 Heat wins]
Jett Lawrence – W
[3 Main, 3 Heat wins]
Nate Thrasher – E
[1 Main, 3 Heat wins]
Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat win]
Haiden Deegan – E
[1 Heat win]
Jeremy Martin – E
[2 Heat wins]
Jordon Smith – E
[3 Heat Wins]
Levi Kitchen – W
Mitchell Oldenburg – W
RJ Hampshire – W
[4 Heat wins]
Max Anstie – E
Tom Vialle – E
Max Vohland – W
Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
Chris Blose – E
Chance Hymas – E
Enzo Lopes – W
Michael Mosiman – E
Pierce Brown – W
Phil Nicoletti – W
* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).