Doran Racing Nissan 370Z NISMO earns third podium in four races for Nissan at Lime Rock; GT Academy rookie Hammann impresses in debut

  • Jaeger, Zacharias take third in #14 370Z NISMO
  • Hammann, Doherty Take #41 car as high as third before an issue drops Car to 7th

LAKEVILLE, Conn. — 07.26.2015 – Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) veterans Brad Jaeger and B.J. Zacharias, drivers of Doran Racing’s #14 Nissan 370Z, have made it onto the podium in half of the CTSCC races held so far this year. The pair took their Nissan to its third podium in four races for the 2015 season.

On Saturday, closing driver Zacharias was fast enough to take second and possibly challenge for the win, but the narrow Lime Rock Course and an inopportune late caution made getting passing the two V8-powered Mustangs of Jade Buford and Billy Johnson impossible. It was close at the finish, with Zacharias drag racing Buford down the straight to within only 0.117 seconds of the second-place Mustang at the stripe.

“I think if we had stayed green, Jade [Buford]’s tires would have fallen off and given us a shot, but the podium finish is awesome. We just want to get a little higher on the podium,” said Cincinnati native Zacharias. “I didn’t have any issues – the car was great. I really have to say that it came down to the pit stops. The Doran team did a great job in the pits. I just tried to work through traffic.”

The team’s #41 sister car almost pulled off a storybook finish, with 2014 GT Academy winner Nic Hammann qualifying an impressive fifth and starting brilliantly in his first U.S. race. Hammann turned over the #41 car to GT Academy teammate Steve Doherty in third place. Doherty left the pits in fourth, as Zacharias got away in the #14 a shade quicker. The 2012 GT Academy winner was locked in on the bumper of veteran Zacharias, setting lap times at or near the series veteran and opening up a gap between the two Nissans and the Camaro Z28R of Robin Liddell in fifth.

The late caution period was costly for the #41, as the car developed a throttle control issue shortly after the restart and Liddell’s overheated tires had a chance to cool.

“We were running well. We were third and fourth with about a half-hour to go, but we had some throttle problems again, and it was getting worse. It caused me to go wide in Turn 1, and the contact with Liddell was at the exit of Turn 2,” said Doherty. “Nic did an awesome job; he brought the car in third for our only pit stop. We were riding around waiting for the Mustangs to burn their tires off, but it didn’t quite work out as well as we hoped.”

With about 34 minutes left, Zacharias had cut the margin between the #14 370Z, and the V8 Mustang in second from 5.97 seconds at that point to just 4.50 seconds when Kevin Boehm went off course on lap 92. Though the Honda Civic was stopped a safe area, a full-course caution was called on with just 20 minutes remaining in the race when that car’s brakes caught on fire while stopped.

The full-course caution allowed the top two Mustangs’ tires cool down prior to the restart on lap 97 with 15 minutes remaining. Zacharias continued to keep the pressure on the second-place car driven by Buford right up until the end.

Hammann kept his characteristic grin as he reflected on his first professional race in the U.S.

“It was a blast! Everyone on the team did a great job. We were in line for a top five until the end, but it was still good,” said the 21-year old from Wisconsin. “I had a good battle with Austin Cindric in the Mustang. It was a lot of fun. In some parts of the track he was better than I was and on other parts I was stronger, so I was trying to capitalize on him in those places. I can’t wait until the next race.”

The Lime Rock CTSCC race will air on Fox Sports 1 on August 2 from noon to 2 p.m. ET.

The next CTSCC race is Aug. 8 at Road America and will be streamed live at imsa.com from 1:20 to 2:50 ET. That race will be rebroadcast on August 17 on Fox Sports 1.

U.S. 2015 Nissan GT Academy Finals underway in Nashville

Top-20 finalists completed virtual competitions today; physical challenges, on-track competition in Nissan 370Z NISMOs slated for Wednesday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – 07.14.2015 – The quest to find the next professional Nissan race car driver is underway. Today in Nashville, the top-20 U.S. GT Academy competitors battled side-by-side in Sony virtual challenges on Day 1 of the U.S. 2015 GT Academy Finals. On Wednesday, the contestants – who have already defeated nearly 30,000 fellow online gamers in the past three months to reach this point – will go through fitness challenges, skill testing and actual on-track racing in Nissan 370Z NISMOs at the Nashville Motor Speedway.

Fans can follow all the action via the Nissan Motorsports Twitter handle, @NISMO_USA.

At the completion of Wednesday’s challenges, the top six performers will move on to the global finals at the legendary Silverstone Raceway in the United Kingdom next month for an intense weeklong competition to crown the next GT Academy winner. The GT Academy has produced several successful professional race car drivers in years past, and this year is poised to be no different.

Former GT Academy winners and now-professional racers Bryan Heitkotter (2011 U.S. Champion) and Nicolas Hammann (2014 U.S. Champion) were among those in attendance for today’s virtual challenges, offering advice to contestants and even participating in a special race to conclude the day.

“It’s a really high-pressure environment,” said Heitkotter. “There are cameras here, which some people might not be used to – I wasn’t during my year. It’s do-or-die right now. You have to be able to handle that pressure as a racing driver, so this is a good simulation of racing in the real world because you only get one shot at each round. In my opinion, it’s unparalleled in the racing world.”

With temperatures expected to climb near 100 degrees at Nashville Motor Speedway Wednesday, an already grueling day filled with on-track racing and fitness challenges such as the “bleep test,” “planking challenge,” and push up competition will become even more difficult for the 20 contestants chasing their dreams.

But for a once-in-a-lifetime shot of becoming the next gamer-turned-professional racer, it’s more than worth it.

“There’s no way that myself, Bryan (Heitkotter) or others would have been able to race professionally if it wasn’t for Nissan GT Academy,” said Hammann. “It’s all about how you take a hold of that opportunity and how you make the most of it.”

The U.S. 2015 GT Academy Finals conclude Wednesday at Nashville Motor Speedway. For more information on GT Academy, please visit http://www.nissanusa.com/gtacademyshow.

About GT Academy 2015
GT Academy is a collaboration between PlayStation® and Nissan that uses the virtual world of the Gran Turismo®6 game to unearth real-world racing talent. Now in its seventh year, GT Academy includes separate competitions for Europe (France, Italy, UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic), International group (Australia, Mexico, North Africa, Turkey and United States) and Asia (India, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Japan).

From National Finals, the action moves onto the legendary Race Camp, where the competitors are put through their paces on track in Nissan sports cars under the watchful eyes of high profile judges and mentors. Winners from each competition will be invited to take part in the intensive Driver Development Program, where they have the opportunity to qualify for an international race license and race for Nissan professionally.

Previous winners of GT Academy are now regular racing drivers. In 2015, Jann Mardenborough (UK, winner in 2011) is racing in the World Endurance Championship for Nissan in the top LM P1 category and in GP3, a feeder series to Formula One, with the championship-winning Carlin team. Lucas Ordoñez (Spain, winner in 2008) will be racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours this year in the Nisan GT-R LM NISMO LMP1 entry, alongside Mardenborough. The 2014 Champions, Gaetan Paletou (Europe) and Ricardo Sanchez (International) are competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series with the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN.

Doran Racing/GT Academy Nissan 370Z NISMO takes first 2015 CTSCC podium at Laguna Seca

Jaeger, Zacharias Take a Solid Third Place at Laguna Seca GT Academy Champs McMillen, Doherty Start Fifth, Bumped off Track Early

Monterey, Calif. – 05.05.2015 – The #14 Doran Racing/GT Academy 370Z NISMO of Brad Jaeger and BJ Zacharias earned its first podium finish of 2015 this weekend at the third round of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca in Monterey, but series veteran and race finisher B.J. Zacharias thinks the team had a good shot at a win at the scenic 2.238-mile road course on the Pacific coast.

“If the race had stayed under green flag that last 12 minutes to the end, I think we had something for the (race winning) Camaro Z28 at the finish,” said Zacharias. “The last caution gave the two V8 cars time to cool off their tires. It was anyone’s race among the top three cars. We all crossed the line within eight tenths of a second. My co-driver Brad Jaeger had one of his best stints ever, and the team made all the right calls, so I felt like we could win it.”

The Doran team tried an unconventional strategy by keeping qualifier and starting driver Jaeger in for the first 90-minutes of the 150-minute race. Once the driver change was made and the car was fueled, Zacharias pulled out of the pits in sixth with an hour to go and enough fuel to make it to the finish. Picking off cars in front of him, the Cincinnati native moved up to second place with 28 minutes remaining, drawing closer to the leading Camaro each lap. After the final caution period ended, there were only two laps remaining, and the third place Mustang on fresher tires was able to out-brake Zacharias for second as the three leaders battled flat out to the finish.

“It was a solid race for Doran and Nissan,” Zacharias said. “I’m proud of the team effort and proud of Brad for getting us to the front.”

The second Doran/GT Academy team car had a faster qualifying lap, courtesy of 2013 GT Academy North America Champ Nick McMillen. The #41 370Z NISMO started fifth on the grid, but was hit by another car on the opening lap of the race, destroying a rim and tire.

“I went through the first three corners side-by-side with the number 15 Mustang. We ran clean, but mid-corner of turn four, he pushed me wide. As we reached the exit curb he bumped me and we both went off track,” said the 21-year old Oregonian. “It damaged the front wheel, so we had to pit. The car stalled out with low voltage in the pits, so we lost a lot of laps. I wish I could have turned it over to (2012 GT Academy Champ) Steve Doherty in a good spot for his first race in the Doran Z.”

After taking a sixth at Daytona and a fifth at Sebring, the #41 Doran 370Z NISMO managed only 17th at Laguna, but gave new team member Doherty some valuable seat time in preparation for the next CTSCC race will be at Watkins Glen in upstate New York June 25 to 27. Jaeger and Zacharias finished second in the 2014 race there.

This week’s race from Laguna Seca will air on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, May 17 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern/6:00 a.m. Pacific.

For more information and the latest news about IMSA Racing and the CTSCC, follow the series online at IMSA.com/.