AUSTIN, Tex. (March 9, 2015) — The Always Evolving NISMO GT Academy Nissan GT-Rs made their North American debut in rounds one and two of the Pirelli World Challenge this weekend at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Tex., and the team’s managers were happy with the results.
Team drivers James Davison and Bryan Heitkotter netted a sixth and 14th overall respectively in Saturday’s race on a dry track, and they placed 16th and 23rd in a rain-soaked Sunday second round contest.
“This program officially started just 30 days ago. Given the fact we had zero time to test or bring the drivers up to speed in the platform, we went out there and I think did a tremendous job under the circumstances,” said Always Evolving team owner Erik Davis in a private meeting with the team post-weekend. “We have some testing and development to do before the next race, but we should all be proud of how the team performed this weekend. The cars looked great and we represented the Nissan brand well. I look forward to a season of good things to come.”
Heitkotter qualified fifth fastest in a strong field of 39 GT cars and he was top qualifier in the GTA, a category for drivers classified as amateurs in GT cars. His finish in Saturday’s race was sixth best in GTA. The race on Sunday proved to be more of a challenge for both drivers in the new cars, but especially frustrating for the 2011 Nissan GT Academy champion from Fresno.
“I was really looking forward to a wet racetrack after this morning’s warm-up,” said Heitkotter. “It was sprinkling and the car felt good. I was passing people. But early on in the race I got hit in the back, which I think knocked alignment out and I was struggling for grip. It’s disappointing from a results perspective, but the car is in one piece. It’s been reliable, and we have a good team that’s just getting started. We want to win, of course, but we have to be realistic this early on.”
Melbourne native James Davison has more racing experience, including IndyCar rides, but the big GT3 Nissan is new experience for him as well. He qualified and finished in sixth place, a result that impressed everyone given the depth of the World Challenge GT field. Sunday’s race was a different challenge for Davison, who now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. The windshield of the teal and black Always Evolving GT-R was fogging up, presenting him with a variable he wasn’t expecting.
“Today visibility was really bad for everyone, but down the back straight I couldn’t see anything. They were the worst weather conditions I’ve ever raced in,” said the 28-year old Australian. “I think we did the best we could this weekend with new cars and a newborn team. We just need to get a little test time to develop the cars for U.S. tracks and get Bryan and me more seat time in these incredibly capable cars.”
The brightly covered GT3 cars were a fan favorite in the garages, with a steady stream of race fans snapping pictures throughout the weekend. A preview video of the cars during their initial shakedown evaluation in Texas can be seen below: http://youtu.be/mGC4_y8KlaU
Next round of the Pirelli World Challenge is March 27-29 on the street circuit at St. Petersburg, Florida for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Live online streaming available at www.world-challengetv.com. Broadcast on CBS Sports Network will air Sunday April 5 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern/4:00 p.m. Central.
Always Evolving team page is www.facebook.com/aeperformance. AIM Autosport is