Having already trained more than 10,000 young mechanics, Nissan and Kondo Racing will expand their partnership by competing in Germany’s 24 Hours Nurburgring race next year, as well as fielding an entry into the GT300 class of Japan’s Super GT Series.
Kondo Racing, a customer team led by Japanese actor and singer Masahiko Kondo, will participate in the Nurburgring endurance race from 2019 with a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 model, marking the team’s first overseas competition with the GT-R since the team was founded in 2000.
Their four-driver lineup for the 2019 Nürburgring 24 Hour Race comprises of two-time GT500 Drivers’ Champion and all-time GT500 career wins leader Tsugio Matsuda, Nissan Driver Development Programme (NDDP) graduate and 2017 All-Japan Formula 3 Champion Mitsunori Takaboshi, 2012 GT300 vice-champion and 2016 Super Taikyu ST-X champion Tomonobu Fujii, and longtime touring car ace, 1999 Japanese Top Formula Champion and multi-time GT500 race winner Tom Coronel.
Nissan will dispatch selected technical staff from NISMO Performance Center-certified dealerships to support the Kondo Racing team as mechanics for the 2019-2021 seasons.
Kondo Racing will also compete together with the Nissan Automobile Technical College (NAMTC), which trains future mechanics for Nissan dealerships, in the Super GT series from 2019. They will race in the series’ GT300 class, Japan’s top GT category, also with a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
NAMTC and Kondo Racing have competed together in Japan’s Super Taikyu endurance series since 2012, winning the series title in the premier ST-X class in 2016. The partnership’s goal is to discover and develop young talent to become skilled mechanics at Nissan dealerships. More than 10,000 students have participated in the program over seven seasons.
Kondo Racing already have years of experience at the top level of Super GT, competing in the GT500 class as a Nissan factory team since the start of the 2006 season.
By stepping their Super Taikyu programme up to the more advanced Super GT series, NAMTC and Kondo Racing aim to further strengthen the training program, which will extend beyond NAMTC students to also incorporate technical staff from Nissan dealers across Japan.
Both activities will be supported by NISMO, Nissan’s racing arm, as part of the GT3 Customer Racing program.
“Nissan and Kondo Racing have worked together since 2012 to train students and boost interest in the dealer mechanic profession,” said Asako Hoshino, Nissan’s senior vice president in charge of Japan operations. “By letting students and technical staff take on new challenges at Nurburgring and in Super GT, we hope to increase their motivation and develop young talent that can enhance the service at our dealerships, keeping our customers’ cars safe and roadworthy.”
Said Kondo, “We’ve worked with more than 10,000 Nissan College students as we’ve competed in Super Taikyu since 2012. The students have learned about competing, as well as the responsibility of mechanics to protect the lives of drivers. As we step up to the Super GT series, we hope to keep contributing to the auto industry by training young people who love cars.”
No announcement has been made as to whether or not Kondo Racing will continue their GT500 participation alongside their new GT300 programme for 2019.
Images courtesy of Nissan