Published on September 1st, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Nissan continues strong in Pirelli World Challenge
After a benchmark weekend in which Nissans took eight podiums in three classes at Miller Motorsports Park, a repeat performance was not expected at a much tighter Sonoma Raceway in California. The twisting, hilly 2.52-mile road course in Napa Valley is in some ways the antithesis of the open tracks like Miller and Road America, where the Always Evolving GT-R GT3s have excelled this season, so expectations were appropriately muted. The team was focused on maximizing potential and taking away valuable points heading to the season finale at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca on the central California coast September 11-13.
Drivers James Davison and GT Academy winner Bryan Heitkotter hung tough and scored valuable points, with Davison coming home with sixth and seventh place finishes and Heitkotter notching seventh and ninth for the weekend. With former points leader Ryan Dalziel not able to race at Sonoma, and Audi driver Mike Skeen struggling of late, Davison has jumped to third in the Pirelli World Challenge Driver’s Championship heading into the final race.
GT Academy 2014 winner and series rookie Nic Hammann made his first starts in Pirelli World Challenge in the GTS class, driving the lightly modified Skullcandy/CA Sport Nissan 370Z. As was the case with the GT-Rs, Sonoma was not a track where the Z was expected to stretch its legs and run near the front of the pack, as it had in the previous rounds in Utah.
Despite those expectations, Hammann was again impressive at the wheel. A blown power steering fastener knocked him out of Saturday’s round 15 while running in 10th halfway through the race. On Sunday, Hammann started ninth based on his Saturday lap times. The 21-year old Wisconsin native ran a smart race Sunday, picking his spots to move up the ladder and taking home a solid sixth out of 25 cars.