Nissan announced this morning that Global Motorsport Head Darren Cox will be leaving the company today. While Cox’s full title is Global Head of Sales, Marketing and Brand, he’s most known by us for his involvement with Nissan’s motorsports programs, including GT Academy and some unique Le Mans cars.
Cox spent eighteen years with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, during which he helped develop the GT Academy program to take Gran Turismo’s best players and stick them into race cars. Three of those raced in the top LMP1 class at Le Mans this year in the radically different front-wheel-drive-biased GT-R LM Nismo—a car so wacky that we can’t help but to sort of love it.
Cox hasn’t escaped controversy during his tenure with Nismo. Nissan’s involvement with the DeltaWing ended in an ongoing legal battle with sportscar legend Don Panoz’s company and this year’s Le Mans car wasn’t exactly ready for prime-time on its debut at Le Mans.
Still, we’ve been appreciative of his efforts to put sportscar racing in front of new audiences. You expect someone like Porsche to market the crap out of their racing efforts because that’s what they’ve always done. Nissan — maker of the Altima — not as much.
Cox had this to say in Nissan’s announcement today:
The decision to leave Nissan and the Alliance was not an easy one. I have enjoyed a great many years working on some amazing projects with great people and have thrived on the challenges, successes and even failures, in equal measure. I have seen GT Academy grow from a small European initiative to now embracing countries representing half the world’s population. I am equally proud of successes such as participating in the launch of Juke, managing marketing for Qashqai in Europe and being part of the team working to expand the Nismo Brand. While I am excited to take a new direction in my career, there is much that I will miss about my time with Nissan and I wish everyone all the best for the future.
As for those future plans for both entities, Nismo will be restructuring as a result of Cox’s departure, and Cox is being rather tight-lipped about where he’s headed:
More on this story and any upcoming changes at Nissan as we have it. We’ve already seen LMP1 designer Ben Bowlby step down from being the LMP1 team principal into a technical director role to focus on making the GT-R LM Nismo work well, so hopefully that car stays on target for a return in 2016.
[Correction: There were three—not just one—GT Academy grads on the LMP1 team at Le Mans this year. My apologies for the mistake; it has since been fixed. H/T Alex Ingram!]
Photo credit: Nismo
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