First GT Academy winner Lucas Ordonez leaves Nissan after 10 years

Lucas Ordonez, the first winner of gamer-to-racer contest GT Academy, has announced he is ending his decade-long relationship with Nissan

First GT Academy winner Lucas Ordonez leaves Nissan after 10 years

The 33-year-old was the first-ever graduate of the Nissan-backed GT Academy, back in 2008, which was designed to take the top players from the PlayStation-exclusive video game franchise Gran Turismo and turn them into professional racing drivers.

Ordonez has enjoyed a 10-year career with Nissan that has included five Le Mans 24 Hours starts, an outing in the Nurburgring 24 Hours, and spells in Super GT and the Blancpain GT Series.

"After over a decade, the time has come to communicate that my relationship with Nissan/NISMO motorsport has come to an end," said Ordonez.

"During these years we have been able to accomplish many achievements and triumphs together, but it is time to search for new challenges, and be able to continue pursuing my professional and personal goals."

Ordonez began his post-GT Academy success by racing in European GT4 in 2009, before progressing to LMP2 machinery and making his first of five consecutive Le Mans appearances in '11.

He made his debut in the French classic in a Signatech Oreca 03-Nissan, finishing second in class, and would bag another LMP2 class podium in 2013 in a Greaves Motorsport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan.

In 2014, Ordonez was chosen to join fellow GT Academy graduate Wolfgang Reip and long-time Nissan factory man Satoshi Motoyama to campaign Nissan's all-electric ZEOD RC racer that ran in the experimental 'Garage 56' class.

That was a prelude to a place in Nissan's ill-fated LMP1 World Endurance Championship squad in 2015, which was closed down after a single disastrous appearance at Le Mans.

Since then, Ordonez's main programme has been with the RJN team in the Blancpain GT Series, and this year he shared a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 with Alex Buncombe and Matt Parry in the Blancpain Endurance Cup.

That followed a single FIA GT campaign with RJN in 2013, a season in Super GT's GT300 class in 2014 and a season in All-Japan F3 in 2015, in which he placed fifth in the standings.

In 2015 he also made three starts in Super GT's GT500 class with Kondo Racing. Ordonez said he intends to continue competing in both "in the real and the virtual world" in future.

His fellow Nissan driver Alex Buncombe later announced his exit from the brand after 11 years.

Buncombe was a regular in the Blancpain GT Series for the marque and partnered Chris Hoy in British GT during the 2014 campaign.

He also made his Le Mans debut with Nissan in the ill-fated LMP1 programme.

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Author Jamie Klein
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