Nissan and Porsche announced their 24 Hours of Le Mans driver lineups this week. Sorry, there will be no more Formula One cross-overs besides Nico Hulkenberg. No Jenson Button. No Fernando Alonso. If you need help coping with this, I recommend a good, long cry with your Fluffy Bunny.
Porsche GT team drivers Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber will be moving up to Porsche's third 919 to run at Le Mans. They will be codriving with Nico Hulkenberg, who we already knew about. Porsche has been testing the 919 with members of its GT team for a while. This is Tandy's third season as a factory driver with Porsche. Bamber has quickly moved up through the ranks of Porsche Carrera Cup and Supercup to be named a factory driver just last December.
Nissan will be contesting three of its GT-R LM Nismo prototypes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year, with two set for full World Endurance Championship seasons. They haven't revealed their full lineup of drivers yet, although we know Marc Gene will be in one car.
The release of the entry list for the 24 Hours of Le Mans yesterday, however, noted the three cars' first drivers: Olivier Pla, Harry Tincknell and Tsugio Matsuda. Pla comes with extensive experience racing Le Mans in an LMP2, including the last three years in an LMP2 with Nissan power. Likewise, Tincknell ran JOTA's Nissan-powered Zytek last year. He's young, but Nissan keeps pointing out that he's been a protege of Le Mans legend Allan McNish. Finally, Matsuda is a choice for the home crowd in Japan. He's the 2014 Super GT Champion as well as a two-time Super Formula champion.
Sorry, everyone. All solid picks, but no cool top-level crossovers on the list. Endurance and marque experience seems to have trumped wow-factor in these picks. As neat as it is to see WEC sniping drivers from F1, Hulkenberg is as good as it's going to get, pending any interesting bombs dropped by Nissan on the rest of their lineup.
Hey, two seats on that third Le Mans-only Nissan are still up for grabs! Someone start faxing love notes to Honda's F1 folks to ask if they can share a couple drivers.
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