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U.S. GT ACADEMY CHAMPIONS TO TAKE ON LE MANS AND DETROIT THIS WEEKEND

  • 2013 winner Nick McMillen to partake in test day at 2015 Le Mans, earn track certification upon successful completion of 10-lap session
  • 2011 winner Bryan Heitkotter taking three-race win streak into Pirelli World Challenge weekend at Detroit-Belle Isle

GT Academy GT-RNASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two American GT Academy winners can further burnish their professional racing credentials this weekend at very different racetracks 4,000 miles apart – 2013 champ Nick McMillen in Le Mans, France and 2011 winner Bryan Heitkotter on the streets of Detroit, Michigan.

McMillen will take to Circuit de la Sarthe in France this Sunday to participate in the annual Le Mans test day. He will pilot a new Ginetta-Nissan LM P3 car in the test session at the 8.5- mile track as he aims to earn new driver certification to compete in future races at Le Mans.

McMillen, from Salem, Oregon, fully committed to becoming a race driver when he quit his job to leave for the GT Academy North American finals in the summer of 2013. Following a dramatic win there and again at the Silverstone Race Camp, he entered the NISMO driver development program, honing his abilities and obtaining his International racing license.

In January 2014, the GT Academy champion won his class at the 24 Hours of Dubai with an all-GT Academy team. Following the win in Dubai, McMillen secured a pair of podium finishes at Spa and Silverstone while driving a Nissan GT-R in the Blancpain Endurance Series, and he now pilots the #41 Doran Racing/GT Academy 370Z NISMO in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) series.

"I was extremely excited when I received the news that I would get an opportunity to test an LM P3 car at Le Mans," said McMillen. "Having competed in motorsports professionally for just over a year now, it will be a surreal moment lapping an iconic circuit like Le Mans in this new car. I can't wait to see what's to come!"

McMillen will join Nissan GT-R NISMO LM P1 Le Mans first-time drivers Max Chilton, Alex Buncombe and Tsugio Matsuda for the May 31 test. The quartet of NISMO athletes are all set to earn their stripes in the Ginetta-Nissan LM P3, a brand new car that will not race at Le Mans this year and will only be used for driver qualification on test day.

Follow Le Mans testing live at radiolemans.0157.org/. Also follow the Nissan GT-R NISMO LM P1 at www.nismo.tv, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NISMO.US and Twitter @NISMO and @NISMO_USA.  For more information about GT Academy, please see www.gtacademy.com.

Heitkotter on a Roll in Pirelli World Challenge
Back in the U.S., 2011 Nissan GT Academy U.S. winner Bryan Heitkotter will ride a three-race win streak in the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) GTA class to the tight, 2.35-mile street circuit at Detroit's Belle Isle. For the 34-year old Californian, a 2015 season that started with some hard luck has done a complete 180-degree turnaround, with wins at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama and both rounds at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Ontario.

"Things started to come together at the Barber Motorsports Park weekend (April 24-26) for us," Heitkotter said. "As a team, we've been developing our understanding of the GT-R GT3 in the opening rounds of the championship, and when we hit the more open circuits of Barber and Mosport it really highlighted our progress. The GT-R likes to stretch its legs!"

For this weekend's Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle PWC Rounds 10 and 11, it's back to a tighter street circuit, making extension of the winning streak a challenge for Heitkotter and his Always Evolving teammate James Davison in the #33 Nissan GT-R GT3 NISMO.

"Heading into Detroit I'm hopeful we can continue this momentum, although realistically our challenge remains a large one as a few other cars have received some performance adjustments from the series, and we have traditionally not been the strongest on street circuits," said the 2011 GT Academy winner. "It's a great feeling having three straight class wins going into the next races, so we approach it knowing anything is possible and knowing how to win."

Established in 2009, GT Academy has discovered racing talent on five continents through a partnership with Sony PlayStation and Polyphony Digital. Participants compete against each other on the PlayStation 3 Gran Turismo video game through a virtual racing competition. This is followed up with going a virtual-turned-reality National Finals competition and an intensive week-long Race Camp in Silverstone, UK. Nissan North America's Motorsports Manager Rick Kulach has seen the program's success firsthand.

"We are immensely proud of what these young guys have accomplished in such a short time," said Kulach. "Bryan has been fast in numerous platforms and he's really coming into his own this year. Nick has done a great job in the Doran Racing 370Z NISMO this season and now gets to show what he can do in an LM P3 car in France.  2012 champion Steve Doherty and 2013 champion Nicholas Hammann have performed well every time they've gotten the chance, and I'm excited to see what all of them do in the near future with Nissan."

The Pirelli World Challenge Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Rounds 10 and 11 take place this Saturday and Sunday, May 30-31. Live online streaming will be available at www.world-challengetv.com. Sunday's Round 11 will air live on CBS Sports Network starting at 11 a.m. Eastern/8 a.m. Pacific.

For more information on Nissan GT Academy North America, follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GTAcademyNA. NISMO Performance page on Facebook is www.facebook.com/NISMO.us.
Always Evolving team page is www.facebook.com/aeperformance. AIM Autosport is www.facebook.com/AIMautosport.

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