The relationship between Nissan and GT Academy seems to be well and truly over, as the brand appears to have all-but ended its relationship with the sole remaining driver. Jann Mardenborough, who won the competition in 2011 and has been part of the brand’s Super GT campaign in recent years, no longer has a spot in the factory GT500 GT-Rs for 2021.
On the face of it, Nissan’s decision to drop the British driver is a peculiar one. Mardenborough showed his form driving the brand’s GT300 car back in 2016, winning in only his second race, and finished just two points off the title. That saw him promoted to a drive in the GT500 class and one of the grid’s most recognizable cars, the Team Impul Calsonic GT-R.
While the car was capable of race wins, Mardenborough was limited to a single visit to the podium in two seasons — twice losing the chance to win due to car reliability issues. In 2019 he was effectively demoted to the Kondo Racing car, albeit still a factory GT-R, as Nissan signed James Rossiter to the Impul seat.
Despite clearly being the faster driver in the car last year, Nissan has opted not to renew Mardenborough’s seat and instead keep Mitsunori Takaboshi in the Kondo machine. Mardenborough’s former team-mate at Impul, Daiki Sasaki will join Takaboshi, making room for F2 driver Nobuharu Matsushita at Impul.
Nissan has yet to officially announce its full motorsports line-up for 2021, so although there are no spare GT500 seats, a step back to GT300 with the brand remains a possibility. Previously Mardenborough has also acted as the official simulator driver for Nissan’s Formula E entry, and may continue in this role or even step up into a race seat for 2022.
Should Nissan decide not to continue with Mardenborough at all, the only remaining GT500 seats are at Toyota, which hasn’t yet revealed its driver roster. It remains to be seen if the 2021 field will be without the Briton at all for the first time in six seasons.