Mark Shulzhitskiy is the first winner of GT Academy Russia. After taking the top prize in August 2012 Mark joined Nissan’s intensive driver development programme where he honed his racing skills and took part in many domestic races in order to gain his international race licence. The GT Academy graduates may not have come through the traditional racing ladder but they serve their apprenticeship at some cold and wet race tracks during the development programme!
Mark’s prize for winning GT Academy was a drive at the Dubai 24 Hours in January 2013 and it soon became apparent that all of his hard work on the driver development programme had turned him into a good professional racing driver. Along with his team mates Lucas Ordonez, Wolfgang Reip and fellow Russian Roman Rusinov, Mark raced to a commendable second place in class on his international debut.
Mark was then selected to become a NISMO Athlete and race a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 car in the FIA GT and Blancpain Endurance Series. Just three races into the Blancpain season Mark scored his first podium finish with a brilliant second place at Paul Ricard.
2013 was also the year that Nissan launched the Nismo Global Driver Exchange, a programme that gives Nissan’s roster of racing drivers opportunities to race all over the world. Mark’s first exchange drive was the MMER 12-hour race at the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur and he also made his LMP2 debut at the Shanghai round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.