GT Academy Graduates Deemed Too Fast For British GT

In 2012 Jann Mardenborough became the first GT Academy winner to drive in British GT. After a season long assault on the title, including a momentous win at Brands Hatch, his RJN Motorsport GT-R GT3 came within half an hour of the championship only to be denied by the reliability of the brand new car. But the team have been denied entry of two RJN cars for 2013 because Academy drivers are too fast.

Like many other GT series worldwide British GT employs a pro-am format, where an experienced racing professional (in the case of GT Academy, Alex Buncombe) is paired with a “gentleman” driver, who is expected to be the slower of the two. The GT Academy drivers’ lack of racing experience ensure they qualify for the gentleman driver bracket, but Jann’s pace put him on a par with the professionals of the series – meaning the GT-R was subject to a time penalty every race to allow the others to catch up!

Faced with two of this year’s four graduates coming at them in a pair of cars and potential for yet more confusion this year, the Stéphane Ratel Organisation – promoters of British GT – have refused the team’s application. The manager of the series, Benjamin Franassovici, said:

[GT Academy] has shown itself to be a great way to source raw talent and turn that into real racing talent as we saw in British GT last year with Jann Mardenborough. However Nissan’s ability to find such amazing raw talent means that we cannot accept their full season entry for British GT in 2013. Their new recruits have very little racing experience so they have to be on the lowest performance grade. Their talent, going on Jann’s speed last year, doesn’t reflect this lack of experience so it is not fair to put them up against our Pro/Gentleman grid, the basis of British GT3.

Though Nissan have hinted at an invitational appearance during the season, it means the four graduates will not be racing in the UK’s top GT series in 2013. It’s likely their calendars (along with previous graduates’) will be announced when Nissan formalise their 2013 schedule at new Nismo headquarters opening in Yokohama on 26th February.

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Comments (65)

  1. Brunskill777

    Aw, I go to the first round of the British GT at Oulton Park every year (although not last year). Was looking forward to seeing them and their GTR. Won’t be able to now :(

  2. Dahlzi

    when a series refuse new young drivers to develop, they making a big mistake.

    Incredible how fast the GT5 drivers is!


    Think this is a major mistake by SRO gta must bring lots of new younger viewers to the series. Maybe the GTA car should have 2 first year gt academy drivers in it then they would have 2 rookies. The jones brothers race at a simular level so they arent pro-am.
    Please don’t have a minimum lap time that sucks

  4. Vortex1be

    Why don’t they just make their car slower so that they don’t beat the minimum lap time? Atleast this way they can enter AND get some more driving experience aswell. They would have to drive a lot better than other drivers just to equal their performance. Thats what I do in GT5 aswell sometimes.

  5. Hemi71

    Yeah, like I just said below, its like GT Academy did better than their own that they invested in and bring tons of money, its like a slap in their face nd they don’t want to deal with it but push them out of the way in a nice way.

  6. RTSolvalou

    Pointless. Why bother with the 2nd driver if there’s a limit to how fast they can be. Sounds like race fixing behind the scenes by British GP staff and officials went wrong and they don’t like it.

    1. Famine

      It’s perfectly standard practice in ALL high level GT race series to bracket drivers according to speed. Some races – the GT Academy prize Dubai 24 Hours and this weekend’ Bathurst 12hr included – also employ a minimum lap time that you are penalised if you beat!

      Many series bracket their professional drivers too – the Blancpain Endurance Series that Jann, Alex and Chris drove the GT-R in last season amongst them. Entry level, “gentleman” drivers like Jann are classified bronze, international champion GT drivers and guests drivers from higher series are classified platinum and others in-between are silver and gold.

      British GT is a pro-am series, but employs a bracketing system. Cars are supposed to have one professional driver and one amateur driver, qualifying based on experience and pace – the professional brings sponsorship, race experience and pace, where the “gentleman” drivers bring money. There are several amateur drivers who’ve been doing it for a few years, but they don’t have the speed of their professional teammate, but Jann did it the exact opposite way round. With professional level pace (broadly equalling Alex – even beating him some races), he simply defied the bracketing system for amateur drivers. It’s moot, but of course he couldn’t qualify as a professional because he’d never even sat in a race car until the previous September – he effectively had the experience of eight GT4 club races and the Dubai 24hr at GT4 before getting into a GT3 GT-R.

      Since he couldn’t be effectively bracketed, British GT simply put a race time penalty on the car. One imagines that’s not a preferred option – and could open the doors for other teams to hire professional drivers instead of gentlemen and take a time penalty, increasing costs for competitors and diminishing the series as teams drop out one by one because they can’t afford to compete. I was at British GT at Snetterton in 1998 and there were eight cars – I guess they don’t want a return to that.

      They have no guarantee that Wolfgang, Peter or Mark (I assume Steve will be racing in North America in 2013) will be quite as fast as Jann, but they have been through the same program and previous drivers were in LMP2 in their second year (as Jann probably will equal this year) and simply don’t want to deal with it.

      There’s no real reason to invoke behind-the-scenes corruption. Nissan Motorsport are happy with it (it was revealed by Global Motorsports Director Darren Cox on Radio Le Mans midweek) and SRO are happy with it. It’s consistent with British GT’s pro-am ethos.

  7. hobanator24

    I think the GT Academy drivers should start their own racing series, then disqualify any outsiders for being ‘too slow.’

    “I’m sorry Mr. Vettel but you were .0001 sec. slower than our GT Academy drivers. Back to Formula 1 with you.”

  8. TurboProp

    Racing is reserved for the rich, they don’t want to be edged out by some sponsored video gamers that otherwise would never get a shot at racing. It’s like that everywhere on the planet, unless you are ultra-rich and buy your way in or born into a racing family you will never get a shot at racing professionally. My 2 cents…

  9. blackjack

    “Charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. I took the mission. What the hell else was I gonna do?”

  10. steebz

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  11. IceMan PJN

    ” Beeblebrox237
    Maybe they can field Formula 3, 2, and 1 teams. Okay, that’s wishful thinking, but you never know.”


    1) professional ≠ professional

    How do I reckon? Well, simply put, professional drivers aren’t all equal. Posting lap times similar to a professional driver in a lower series doesn’t necessarily mean the same driver can post lap times comparable to professional drivers in higher series. While it can be counter-argued that it doesn’t mean that they can’t, the relevant point here is that it doesn’t mean that they can.

    2) No matter what, GT Academy drivers won’t qualify for a Super License, which is an unquestionable requirement for competing in Formula One. They could participate at a lower formula level, but not F1. To qualify for a Super License you must be a reigning champion of a lower level or at least consistently finish well in a lower formula series. They would also accept IndyCar experience, provided that the driver finish within the top four in an IndyCar championship. There is also the licensing fee, which must be paid up each year that a driver wishes to participate, which as an example cost Lewis Hamilton the equivalent of $380,714.40 in 2010 alone.

  12. Hemi71

    Not surprised at all, when it comes to their turf, they can bend the rule here n there as they see or think it should fit so they may have felt newcomers belonged where they should be “video games” not as in professional drivers.

  13. p0p0ng

    Why can’t they go to Court and have a legal case here. It is not in their Rule & Regulations book, they should have revised it first before entrants are accepted.

    1. Racingworld68

      Going to court is no option, Ratel rules his series like he wants, or you go along, or you won’t race in his series….

  14. Racingworld68

    It has nothing to do with being affraid, it is all about the equal chances of all competitors…. The other competitors who are paying big money to enter these series (money Stephan Ratel can not miss) have probably complained…. and if they are not racing, Ratel gets no money …… so Ratel chooses to put the Academy boys on the side, so he is sure of the other 15 or 18 amateur teams….. If Stephane Ratel organises something it is always about money. The Belgian Gt championship was a few years ago also in the hands of SRO (Stephane Ratel Organisation), he ‘sucked’ all the money out of it, result….few years later ; there is no Belgian GT championship anymore…..
    In fact the only series that he has made a succes (and to be honest not really him, but thanks to the organisation of the 24hrs of Spa) is the Blancpain series.

  15. TokoTurismo

    Hahaha. Looks like some motorsport series are starting to become afraid of GT Academy and their graduates now. HAHAHA!!! XD

  16. HarVee

    ‘Too fast’? Isn’t going ‘too fast’ and defeating the competition the point of all things motorsport?

  17. mattmflok

    seeing the decision from the organizers: a loophole has been found, and we must plug it.

    seeing it as a spectator: race speed =/= race experience, and seems the organizers do not have a single clue of the training the GT Academy graduates go through, although not to the scale that they spend most of their life so far at training camp like Chinese athletes do (the likes of swimmer Sun Yang began training at around 6 or 7, and it would be at least a year between stays at their home town), but the intensity of training is very very close to what those Chinese athletes go through considering a relatively short time frame.

  18. Z Crazy

    Conspiracy Theory:

    It could be a ploy to get a big dollar team (relatively) to compete in the organizer’s ailing championship FIA GT1…

  19. Soyuz 77

    If GT Academy continues, (hoping it does…) I’m wondering what they will do with the winners?

    Especially if this continues to happen.

  20. racingchamp30

    I always thought that is the racer they would of want more are racers that are able too set a record lap time , warm up times for a race, not tell them that they can’t race cause the drivers are too fast. LOL

    1. Pit Crew

      Read the part about the rules, “Gentleman Driver” requirement for British GT specifically, and in MotorSport GT Races its not an uncommon statute.

  21. infamousphil

    Dang! And I thought a decade ago… we could teach kids, if not to drive, at least the fundamentals of handling an automobile, with PD’s simulator.

    Chin up chaps. Your talents will not go not needed.

  22. Pit Crew

    ARRRGGHH, punished for being too good…but rules are rules. Puts quite an exclamation on Janns “Raw” talent.

  23. 01GTP

    We could hope that the race schools/academy’s of the world will step up to the GT Academy’s kind of training.
    That could lead to better racing for everyone.

    I imagine Nissan will get seats for these gents in some series.
    That will be another series fortune and the BGT’s misfortune.

    It’s too bad the sanctioning body feels they have to eliminate such drivers from their series.

    1. Jav

      The SRO never said they needed to eliminate them, they just can’t be paired with other Pro drivers. It is a legitimate ruling by SRO, the pairing of 2 Pro drivers gives the team an unfair advantage over the normal Pro-Am teams as simple as that!

  24. SubaruWRC555

    Not cool SRO!!! Just cuz they had more talent out of the box does not mean they should not have there application turned down. I bet I they show up with two crappy and unheard of drivers then it would be accepted:(

    1. Jav

      That’s the point of the series, GTAcademy drivers are Pro drivers not Am drivers. If they are paired with true Am drivers they will be allowed to race with no problems. But if the team wants to pair them with other Pro drivers then there comes the conflict of having an unfair advantage over the rest of the field!

  25. Jav

    I don’t see the problem here. Nissan(RJN) needs to stop shooting fish in a barrel and start doing serious PRO Racing with their GT Academy talent.
    GTAcademy guys are by no means Amateurs, they are Pro drivers and going against a Pro-Am team with a Pro team is like taking candy from an innocent kid! They need to stop the BS and give this guys a real Pro ride, not some Club Racing on a full on GT3 effort going up against old farts who get lost on the track on inferior equipment!

  26. blacknumber3

    British GT Official: “I’m afraid we must disqualify you from competition. You race too darn fast.”
    GT Academy Grad: “Umm………….Sorry?”

  27. Foxiol

    Amazing. That is cool because now they could go anywhere or change to a different competition. Hope Nissan have seats for them.

    1. MSTER232

      No. It’s just that whoever decided that they are “too fast” and kicked them out of the 2013 championships has been playing too much GT5 with people that are better than them :) .

  28. BoneSawTX

    makes sense, if your amateur is coming out of a driving academy and spending more time in the cars than the most likely Doctors and lawyers that make up the rest of the amateur field it is unfair. He’s going to pickup experience much faster.

  29. sangdude82

    This happens whenever Nissan dominates in the world of motor racing. Australian Touring Cars Championship in the 90’s, 2011 FIA GT1 Championship (a.k.a FIA GT Series) and now the British GT. Of course, PD has supplied the drivers through the GT Academies for this series but those drivers drive Nissan race cars which prepped by RJN Motorsport so we gotta give them some credit as well (minus the reliability issues).

    I’ve always wondering, why didn’t Nissan participate in the 2012 FIA GT Series? Did FIA ban them from entering the series because they were too good in 2011?

    1. ml_paladin888

      JRM didnt have the funds to run in the series (having joined WEC last year) JRM will be back in the endurance series though, running their GT3 GT-Rs

    2. Zuel


      Nissan has done the same thing again as they done through the late 60’s to the mid 80’s. Farming teams and drivers to help make their product better, look at the history with Shelby, Saleen. Look at the current teams that Nissan are work with now, no need to say anymore.

  30. shmogt

    lol best and worst news that guy heard.

    British person: “hey man your’re kicked out”
    GT guy: “What, why?!?!”
    British person: “You are too amazing”
    GT guy: “damn/ok”

  31. timcp

    So they say that talent is unfair? That British GT is only for professionals and untalented amateurs? Well all I can think of is WTF?!?
    Why is it unfair? The Academy winners _are_ amateurs. They “trained” by playing GT. Everyone is free to do the same. GT Academy is just a way to bring that talent to light, which any motorsports organization should welcome.

    1. sangdude82

      I reckon those professional & other amateur drivers were feeling the pressure from Jann Mardenborough & RJN Motorsport’s Nissan GT-R GT3 last year because they were too fast. So they must’ve asked the British GT to kick the RJN Motorsport guys out of the competition.

  32. Tvensky

    It seems future is bright for gamers!!! :) maybe in future you will be experienced race driver even before you enter real race :) lol

    1. infamousphil

      It’s bound to happen. Sooner or later, bragging rights will have to be settled. Directly or indirectly, these two simulation powerhouses will be compared in a real world setting. Hope to be there and collect on a cash bet on GT besting FM.

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