Nobuharu Matsushita is closing on a deal to join Nissan’s roster of SUPER GT drivers for the 2021 season, Motorsport.com has learned.
The Formula 2 exile is a leading candidate to race for the Impul squad at the wheel of the team’s famous Calsonic-liveried GT-R alongside Kazuki Hiramine, a move likely to prompt a wider reshuffle of Nissan’s GT500 roster.
Daiki Sasaki, who has been part of the Impul line-up since 2018, has been tipped to switch to the Kondo Racing squad, putting Jann Mardenborough’s future with Nissan in doubt.
Matsushita is understood to have been present at a Nissan driver evaluation test at Fuji Speedway earlier this month along with three of the marque’s GT300 drivers: Kiyoto Fujinami, Hironobu Yasuda (a former Nissan GT500 driver) and Keishi Ishikawa.
Fujinami is also considered a strong contender to make the step up to GT500 following his title victory alongside Joao Paulo de Oliveira in the GT300 ranks this year.
Kiyoto Fujinami（#56 Kondo Racing GT-R）
Photo by: Tomohiro Yoshita
As well as Mardenborough, Katsumasa Chiyo’s spot on Nissan's GT500 roster is thought to be vulnerable, making the NDDP/B-Max Racing team a possible destination for Fujinami.
Nissan’s flagship NISMO line-up of Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda is set to stay unchanged for an eighth consecutive season.
Matsushita made his first SUPER GT starts for the ARTA Honda team in the GT300 class earlier in the final two rounds of the 2020 season at Motegi and Fuji as a replacement for the injured Shinichi Takagi alongside Toshiki Oyu.
It followed him losing his F2 seat at MP Motorsport with three rounds remaining of the season for financial reasons.
The 27-year-old also found his way back into single-seaters as he contested the latter half of the Super Formula season for B-Max Racing, replacing Formula E-bound Sergio Sette Camara.
Nobuharu Matsushita, Buzz Racing with B-Max
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
This time last year, Matsushita, a seven-time race winner in GP2/F2, turned down the chance to represent Honda in SUPER GT and Super Formula in 2020.
As a factory Nissan driver, it’s unlikely Matsushita would be able to continue to race in Super Formula next year, although it is believed he had at least some preliminary contact with Toyota regarding the possibility of a double programme in 2021.