On Friday, IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge team CRG, LLC announced that they will be switching their No. 44 entry for drivers Sarah Cattaneo and Owen Trinkler from a Honda Civic Si to a Nissan Altima Coupe in time for the next round at Watkins Glen. The move ends a multi-year relationship with Honda for the small operation.
CRG, LLC team owner Joe Cattaneo explained why the change was made now, in the middle of the season.
“The team had an opportunity to bring Nissan back to the Continental Tire series, increasing the number of manufacturers participating, which will help broaden the spectator appeal and class competition,” Joe Cattaneo said in a press release. “…The allure of bringing back a top manufacturer into the series after the cars sat out the 2015 season, was just too tempting. Hopefully, we can apply all of the front-wheel drive knowledge that we have to the Nissan, and are excited to see how the car stacks up against the intense Continental Tire ST class competition at Watkins Glen and throughout the remainder of the season.”
CRG, LLC’s move reintroduces Nissan to the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and by extension, IMSA. Last year, Doran Racing ran a two-car team in the Grand Sport class running Nissan 370Z’s with drivers from the Nissan GT Academy. However, Nissan decided to pull out at the end of last season and focus on Pirelli World Challenge. In Street Tuner, Nissan has been out of the class since the end of 2014.
Despite the announcement, the equipment that Sarah Cattaneo and Trinkler will be using is not brand new. They have acquired one of the Altima Coupes that was previously used in the series by CA Sport (aka Skullcandy Team Nissan), which raced two Altima coupes as recently as 2014. Based on the press release, it is unclear which chassis the team has acquired, but the team did have a winning pedigree. In 2013, CA Sport owner Lara Tallman and Vesko Kozarov won the season opening BMW Performance 200 at Daytona with their No. 33 Nissan Altima Coupe.
For 2015, CA Sport moved to Pirelli World Challenge, where they campaigned in both the TC class with their Nissan Altima Coupes, and in the GTS Class with a Nissan 370Z that was originally destined to race in the CTSC. For this season, they are running a partial schedule in Pirelli World Challenge’s TC class with 370Z’s that are newly eligible for the class.
The fourth round of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge is the Continental Tire 150 at the Glen on Jul. 2. We will be in Watkins Glen covering all the action. The race will be streamed live at IMSA.com at 12:25 p.m. Delayed TV coverage will air Jul. 10 at 9 a.m. on FOX Sports 1.