Arab Today, arab today champion joins shining sports car talent at nissan
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Champion joins shining sports car talent at Nissan

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Arab Today, arab today Champion joins shining sports car talent at Nissan

Nissan GT-R LM Nismo
Paris - Arab Today

Three members of the driving squad for Nissan’s new Le Mans challenger, the NISSAN GT-R LM NISMO, were revealed in Paris today during the traditional ACO pre-season press conference.
Tsugio Matsuda (JAP), Harry Tincknell (GB) and Olivier Pla (FRA) join Nissan’s squad of nine drivers from across the globe that between them will race in the pair of Nissan LM P1 cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship and a third car that will join the team for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The race numbers for the three cars were also revealed today as #21 (Le Mans), #22 and #23 (FIA WEC).
"We chose to look within the Nissan family to find drivers who have done a great job for us and provide a good mixture of youth and experience," said Darren Cox, Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, NISMO. "Matsuda san needs little introduction as he is the reigning SUPER GT Champion. Harry and Oli stood out for their professional performances alongside our NISMO Athletes in Nissan-powered LM P2 cars. They are great endurance racers and it is a pleasure to welcome them into LM P1 as it is also a pleasure for us to now be in a position where we can take our own global talent and take them all the way to the top."
Tsugio Matsuda built his racing career in Japan where he is the reigning SUPER GT GT500 Champion after winning the title in the #23 Motul Autech GT-R last year. Matsuda san will drive the NISSAN GT-R LM NISMO at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
"It is an honour for me to race the NISSAN GT-R LM NISMO at Le Mans," said Matsuda. "I have dreamt of racing at Le Mans since I was a child. I know it is one of the most demanding races in the world but that is why I want to do it. In order for me to succeed in this new challenge, I am hoping to make good use of my experiences from last year when I competed in two races in a Nissan-powered LM P2 car. The race will be very tough but I am excited to have been given the opportunity to take part in this challenge. I will do everything I can to make sure we get a good result in the race."
While Matsuda comes from within the Nissan SUPER GT family, Tincknell and Pla have ascended the sports car ladder via LM P2 to arrive in LM P1 with Nissan.
Harry Tincknell was the sensation of the European Le Mans Series in 2014. The 23 year-old Briton took the LM P2 class victory on his first attempt at the Le Mans 24 Hours and finished as runner-up in the European Le Mans Series. A talented single-seater racer, Tincknell made the switch to sports cars in early 2014. In 2015 he will race in the full FIA World Endurance Championship season with Nissan.
"This is my first ever major manufacturer contract," said Tincknell. "It’s something you dream about when you are in karting. To be part of the Nissan family, with all its history and heritage, is amazing and I hope this is just the start of a long and successful relationship. It’s an exciting time for our sport with four major manufacturers battling it out on the track and it’s great to be part of this new golden era of sports cars.
"There are great opportunities in sports cars for those who put the work in," he continued. "I’ve got this amazing opportunity with Nissan and now I’m looking forward to cracking on with testing and ultimately doing my first Le Mans in the top class. I’ve watched the likes of Mark Webber and Anthony Davidson on the TV since I was nine and now I get to race against them!"
Olivier Pla has consistently proved that he is one of the world’s best sports car drivers. Like Tincknell he started his racing career in single-seaters but has focused on sports car racing since 2008. A strong competitor in LM P2, Pla is more than ready to step up to LM P1 for the full 2015 season.
"It feels great to be part of a programme like this," said Pla. "As a driver it means a lot and I feel very proud and pleased to become a works driver for Nissan. The challenge is very exciting and I'm more than ready for that. During the last three seasons in particular, the level of competition in LM P2 has become incredibly high so it is the perfect place to train for LM P1.
"This will be quite a new experience for me," he continued. "On track the LM P1 cars are very sophisticated now with their energy recovery systems and fuel allocation rules so there will be a lot of work to do on strategy. Off track the LM P1 class certainly attracts more media attention so it will be a busy season. I want to win Le Mans and I think, with Nissan, I am in the right place to do it."
The configuration of the driver line-ups in the three NISSAN GT-R LM NISMOs will be revealed once all of the drivers have been announced.
TSUGIO MATSUDA
Date of birth: 18 June 1979
Place of birth: Mie prefecture, Japan
Nationality: Japanese
Lives: Tokyo, Japan
Languages: Japanese
Twitter: @TsugioMatsuda
Tsugio Matsuda is the reigning SUPER GT GT500 Champion after winning the title in 2014 in the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R. Along with his team-mate Ronnie Quintarelli he won the final round at Motegi in November, sealing the coveted SUPER GT title for NISMO. Matsuda’s career began in go karts before he progressed to the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship in 1998. From there he moved to the Formula Nippon series where he became Champion in 2007 and 2008. Since 2000 he has competed regularly in SUPER GT (formerly JGTC) and Formula Nippon, making him one of the most experienced drivers in the NISMO team.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
2014
    Winner of the SUPER GT GT500 Championship (with team mate Ronnie Quintarelli). Raced the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500).
    Competed in the Silverstone and Austin rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship in LM P2 with KCMG, finishing second and first respectively.
2013
    Participated in SUPER GT in a Nissan GT-R. Finished 9th in the Driver's rankings, team placed 9th in the Team standings.
    Super Formula (formerly Formula Nippon): series ranking 6th
    Raced in the Fuji round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in LM P2 with KCMG and the Sepang round of the Asian Le Mans Series.
2012
    Participated in SUPER GT in a Nissan GT-R. Came 4th in the Driver's rankings, team placed 4th in the Team standings.
    Formula Nippon: series ranking 8th
2011
    Participated in SUPER GT in a Nissan GT-R. Came 5th in the Driver's rankings, team placed 5th in the Team standings.
2010
    SUPER GT: (Nissan GT-R) driver ranking 5th, team ranking 5th
    Formula Nippon: series ranking 14th (partial season)
2009
    SUPER GT: (Nissan GT-R), driver ranking 11th, team ranking 10th
    Formula Nippon: series ranking 11th
2008
    SUPER GT: (Nissan GT-R), driver ranking 5th, team ranking 4th
    Formula Nippon: Series champion
2007
    SUPER GT: (Fairlady Z), driver ranking 5th, team ranking 2nd
    Formula Nippon: Series champion
2006
    SUPER GT: (Fairlady Z), driver ranking 6th, team ranking 4th
    Formula Nippon: series ranking 2nd
2005
    Formula Nippon: series ranking 6th
    SUPER GT: series ranking 9th

2004
    Formula Nippon: series ranking 11th
    JGTC: series ranking 8th (1 win)
2003
    Formula Nippon: series ranking 11th
    JGTC: series ranking 11th
2002
    Formula Nippon: series ranking 5th
    JGTC: series ranking 2nd (3 wins)
2001
    Formula Nippon: series ranking 10th
    JGTC: series ranking 8th (1 win)
2000
    Formula Nippon: series ranking 4th (1 win) - Youngest Japanese winner, youngest to reach the podium.
    JGTC (Japanese GT Championship)
1999
    Japanese F3: series ranking 5th
    Macau F3 GP: 4th, Korea F3 GP
1998
    Japanese F3: series ranking 4th (1 win)
    Formula Nippon: Spot entry at Suzuka
    Macau GP
1997
    SRS-F (Suzuka Racing School Formula): scholarship recipient
1996
    World Cup Asia Pacific Championship, ICA class champion
    All Japan Kart Championship, FSA class
1994-95
    All Japan Kart
1993
    Karting debut
HARRY TINCKNELL
Date of birth: 29 October 1991
Place of birth: Exeter, UK
Nationality: British
Lives: Sidmouth, UK
Languages: English plus basic French and Italian
Twitter: @HarryTincknell
Harry’s skill behind the wheel of an LM P2 car was the revelation of the 2014 European Le Mans Series and best illustrated by his pair of pole positions and the fact he was consistently the fastest LM P2 driver at Le Mans, en route to a class win in the 24 hour endurance classic. His performance in 2014 belies the fact that Harry only moved over from racing single-seaters to sports cars at the start of that year.
After a strong grounding in karting, Harry entered the world of single-seater racing at the end of 2008. He was quickly a contender in the Formula Renault UK Championship where he was a regular on the podium. From Formula Renault Harry moved up to Formula 3, firstly in the British Series and then Europe where the good results continued.
Harry has a reputation for being a fast and mistake-free driver, which is exactly what is required in the super-competitive world of LM P1 racing.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
2014
    Le Mans 24 Hours LM P2 class win – LM P2 victory and fifth place overall with JOTA Sport in what was Harry’s fourth ever sports car race.
    Championship runner-up in European Le Mans Series with JOTA Sport: one win, three podiums and four pole positions.
    Rookie of the Year – European Le Mans Series
    FIA World Endurance Championship: Competed at Spa (2nd in LM P2) and at Le Mans.
    Awarded full membership of the British Racing Driver’s Club(BRDC)
    Winner of the BRDC Woolf Barnato Trophy
2013
    Fifth place overall in the FIA European Formula Three Championship with one win, three podiums and two pole positions.
    Competed in the F3 Masters, taking fourth place.
2012
    Fifth place overall in the British Formula 3 International Series with four wins and nine podiums
    Competed in three rounds of the European Formula Three Championship, winning one of them.
    Macau Grand Prix: sixth in Qualification race & ninth in Main Race.
    Formula Junior Vice-Champion in the Pau Historic Grand Prix.
    Winner of the Raymond Mays Trophy (Former Winners: Jamie Green, Mike Conway, Jason Plato)
2011
    Race winner in the British Formula 3 International Series. Harry took victory at Brands Hatch GP and three podiums on the way to 11th overall in his rookie season.
    Selected to be a member of Team UK
2010
    Competed in the Formula Renault UK Championship. Finished fifth overall with two wins and seven podium finishes.
    Selected to be a member of Team UK, an elite squad of young drivers within the MSA Academy, singled-out to receive one-on-one performance management.
    Awarded Rising Star status by the BRDC (British Racing Drivers’ Club).
2009
    Fifth place overall in the Formula Renault UK Championship with four podium finishes.
    Formula Renault Graduate Cup Champion with 11 wins.
    Formula Renault UK Winter Series Champion with two wins and four podiums.
2008
Karting
    Rotax Max Euro Challenge - Salbris, France - 4th
    Formula Renault Portugal Winter Series - Estoril - 6th & 8th
    Formula Renault UK Winter Series
2007
Karting
    ICA Winter Cup Final - Garda, Italy - 4th
    ICA Italian Championship - Garda, Italy - 5th
    World Series of Karting Championships - Sarno, Italy - 4th
    ICA French Championship - Essay, France - third overall, fastest lap, pole position
    ICA Asia - Pacific Championship - Japan - 9th
OLIVIER PLA
Date of birth: 22 October 1981
Place of birth: Toulouse, France
Nationality: French
Lives: Toulouse, France
Languages: French & English
Twitter: @OlivierPla
After starting his career in single-seater racing, Frenchman Olivier Pla has earned an enviable reputation in sports car racing during recent years. He first came to the attention of Nissan while competing in Oak Racing-entered LM P2 cars, powered by the NISMO-tuned Nissan VK45DE V8 engine.
Pla is the perfect example of a sports car driver who has both outright speed and the consistency to excel in endurance racing. In 2014 he raced the No.26 Ligier-Nissan, which took LM P2 pole position in six of the eight FIA World Endurance Championship races. Despite four victories and multiple fastest laps, Olivier and his team-mates were pipped to the championship win so the Frenchman is hungry for success in 2015.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
2014
    FIA World Endurance Championship with Oak Racing (G-Drive entry). Runner up in LM P2 Drivers Endurance Trophy with four race victories.
    Competed in six rounds of the Tudor United Sports Car Championship with Oak Racing – winner at Mosport
2013
    FIA World Endurance Championship with Oak Racing. Runner up in LM P2 Drivers Endurance Trophy and second in class (eighth place overall) in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
2012
    Fourth place in LM P2 in the FIA World Endurance Championship, driving for Oak Racing.
    Runner up on the European Le Mans Series with two podiums and one victory.
2011
    Competed in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, taking third place overall at Silverstone in the Oak/Pescarolo Judd LM P1.
    Le Mans Series & Le Mans 24 Hours: LM P1 / Zytek - Quifel-ASM
2010
    Sixth place overall in the Le Mans Series with one win and two podiums, driving a Ginetta-Zytek LM P2 - Quifel-ASM
    Seventh place at Le Mans 24 Hours in the Ginetta-Zytek LM P2 - Quifel-ASM
2009
    Le Mans Series LM P2 Champion with two race wins: Ginetta-Zytek LM P2 - Quifel-ASM
    Also raced Ginetta-Zytek in Le Mans 24 Hours – DNF
2008
    Competed in the Le Mans Series in the LM P2 Lola AER
    Fourth place in LM P2 at Le Mans 24 Hours, driving Lola AER for Quifel-ASM
    Raced at Petit Le Mans in the LM P1 Zytek factory entry
    GP2 test driver
2007
    GP2 test driver
2006
    GP2 Series with David Price Racing
2005
    GP2 Series with David Price Racing: 2 wins
2004
    World Series by Nissan: partial season with Carline Motorsport, taking one win and two podium finishes.
2003
    Third place in Formula 3 Euroseries with ASM
2002
    Third place French Formula 3 Championship with ASM – two wins and six podiums
    F3 Masters in Zandvoort – second place overall
2001
    Made F3 debut in French Formula 3 Championship: 1 podium for Saulnier Racing
2000
    Third place in the Renault Campus Championship with four wins and eight podiums
1999
    Made motorsport debut at La Filiere
Source: Nissan

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