Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 takes third straight win of the season in SUPER GT 2015 Round 4

SHIZUOKA PREFECTURE, Japan – 08.13.2015 – Round 4 of the Japanese SUPER GT race series was held under blistering heat at Fuji Speedway (1 lap – 4.563km) in Shizuoka Prefecture, as the #24 “D’station ADVAN GT-R” (Daiki Sasaki / Michael Krumm) grabbed victory in the GT500 class. With this, the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 has achieved a three-round winning streak, following round 2 at Fuji and round 3 at Buriram, Thailand.

Furthermore, with the #12 “CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R” (Hironobu Yasuda / Joao Paulo Lima De Oliveira) coming home third and the #1 “MOTUL AUTECH GT-R” (Tsugio Matsuda / Ronnie Quintarelli) finishing fourth, they are now first and second respectively in the championship rankings.

Coinciding with the Bon Festival holiday, Fuji Speedway saw a whopping 56,000 spectators turn out over the weekend to watch the race. Under the blazing sun, the fans in the grand stand experienced some sweltering conditions, but the excitement of race day blew away any concerns about the heat.

Having achieved very good results thus far in the season, both the #1 GT-R and #12 GT-R have been assigned handicap weights exceeding 50kg. Consequently, they have been fitted with fuel restrictors that limit the supply of fuel to the engine.

Due to Fuji Speedway’s considerably long straight, the difference in top speeds between cars with and without this device is quite telling. As a result, the two cars struggled during the official qualifying sessions, leaving the #12 starting the final race from 8th and the #1 from 11th on the grid. The #24 GT-R, having yet to be set any handicap weight, secured a 6th place start.

Starting behind the wheel of the #24 GT-R, Krumm protected their sixth position in the opening stages and then went on to climb up one spot before handing the car over to Sasaki. Approximately one hour after the race started, the road surface temperature began to drop and, as if corresponding to this, Sasaki began his push through the pack. First he passed the #100 NSX CONCEPT-GT to climb to fourth, and followed this up by overtaking the #36 RC F to leap into third.

In front of him the #1 GT-R was battling it out with the #38 RC F, but Sasaki almost effortlessly passed these two machines to put him in the top spot. After this he continued to lift his pace and pass the checkered flag with a 4.7-second margin over the next car. This was the first win for the #24 GT-R in five years and four months, the last being in the 2010 season opening round at Suzuka. Furthermore it was Sasaki’s first ever win in the SUPER GT, and Krumm’s first since 2004 at Tokachi, an interval of 11 years.

“We owe a big thank you to Yokohama for creating such strong tires,” said KONDO RACING team principal, Masahiko Kondo. “We’ve had a streak of bad luck, and there have been so many races where victory just slipped out of our grasp, so I’m really ecstatic. Everything finally came together, and we’ve been able to get this fantastic result. Krumm did a great job surpassing the harsh developments in the early stages of the race, and then Daiki really pulled out a superb performance.”

The success of the GT-Rs was not limited to this though. Starting from 11th on the grid, Matsuda took charge of the #1 GT-R and right from the word go was tenaciously chasing down his rivals to raise them to eighth by the time he headed into the pits. The NISMO mechanics then performed a blisteringly fast pit stop – 10 seconds faster than the rest of the competition – and when the #1 GT-R returned to the course it had risen to an astonishing real third place.

Quintarelli continued to ride on this momentum, passing the #36 RC F to put them in second, and rapidly began to close the gap with the #38 RC F. However, a sufficient chance to overtake the #38, which was free from the burden of a fuel restrictor, never quite presented itself, and towards the end of the race the #1 GT-R began to lose tire grip.

At this point it relinquished its position to the #12 GT-R and passed the checkered flag in fourth. The #12 GT-R had fallen down the order early in the race but shot back up in the second half to ultimately pass the #1 GT-R, a serious rival in the championship, to grab the third step on the podium. They are now sitting at the top of the point rankings.

Last round’s winner, the #46 “S Road MOLA GT-R” (Satoshi Motoyama / Masataka Yanagida) started from 10th and completed the race in 14th place. In the GT300 class the #3 “B-MAX NDDP GT-R” (Kazuki Hoshino / Mitsunori Takaboshi) was hit by another car in the opening lap at Dunlop Corner, resulting in significant damage. Despite managing to get back to the pits it was forced to retire. The #10 “GAINER TANAX GT-R” (Andre Couto / Katsumasa Chiyo) came home in 6th and this put Couto at the top of the championship rankings.

#24 GT-R driver, Daiki Sasaki
“After Krumm did such a fantastic job to bring the car into the pits in fifth under those severe, hot conditions, I really tried to push as hard as I could after it began to cool down. At first I just aimed to grab third, but after I managed to get there I felt that I could go even further and continued to push for a higher spot. In the final stages I was furiously driving while desperately maintaining control of the tempestuous machine. I was overcome with emotion after I passed the finish line. Then after I brought the car into parc ferme and looked at Klumm’s face, tears once again filled my eyes.”

#24 GT-R driver, Michael Krumm
“This is my third season driving for KONDO RACING, and beginning from the folks at Yokohama Tires, everyone in the team has been fervently striving for a win. Today is the result of all those efforts. Of course there was also a bit of luck involved. We’ve had a lot of misfortune recently so I am incredibly happy with this win. Especially since its my first in 11 years.”

NISMO team principal Yutaka Suzuki

“Ronnie did an amazing job raising us up through the order. Unfortunately our speed on the straight was hampered and he was unable to overtake that last rival. Ultimately the tires began to lose grip and we fell back to fourth, but looking at the fact that we started from 11th and ended up engaging in a battle for the lead, I think this was a good race for us. Both the drivers and the team – who did some phenomenal pit work – deserve full recognition. We’re sitting at second in the rankings, but we’ll be going into the second half of the season with high hopes of taking the championship.”

Nissan survives a tough 24 hours

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium – 07.26.2015 – The 2015 Spa 24 Hours lived up to its reputation of being one of the toughest endurance races in the world this weekend. The #22 and #23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s made it to the checkered flag, both finishing the race in eighth place in the PRO AM and PRO classes respectively. The result for #23 means that Alex Buncombe (GB), Katsumasa Chiyo (JAP) and Wolfgang Reip (BEL) now hold fourth place in the PRO driver’s championship, 10 points behind the leaders with one race to go.

Over 500 laps of Spa-Francorchamps is hard on cars and drivers, but throw in some biblical rain showers and accidents galore, and the 2015 Spa 24 Hours turned into a giant slayer of a race, which very many of the runners failed to finish.

Fresh from winning the last round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Paul Ricard, the #23 PRO class crew of Buncombe, Chiyo and Reip were looking for a good result at Spa to bolster their championship hopes.  Along with the #22 PRO AM crew of Olivier Pla (FRA) and three GT Academy winners – Ricardo Sanchez (MEX), Gaetan Paletou (FRA) and Florian Strauss (GER) – the Nissans lined up for the race start primed and ready for a competitive showing.

The weather gods delivered a real soaking for the start of the race, but this didn’t stop Buncombe making up three places on lap one. Olivier Pla had a tougher time in #22 when a small electrical problem stopped his (rather necessary) windscreen wiper from working. The Frenchman had to make a dash to the pits as the race went green, which put him all the way back to 57th place.

Buncombe’s progress was slowed by the first safety car period just 25 minutes into the race while the debris from a crashed Ferrari was cleared away. When it seemed the race had only just gone green another crash brought the safety car back out for an hour. The safety car had to be dispatched half a dozen times before nightfall at Spa.

Unfortunately for the Nissans, an early switch to slick tires when the track dried up didn’t pay off as the heavens soon opened again sending everyone scurrying back to the pits for wets. The grim weather continued and by the six-hour mark, #23 was in 25th place with #22, resplendent in its new livery, on a fight back drive in 36th.

Just before the six-hour mark the #23 Nissan had cycled through its driver squad, so Buncombe was back onboard. He had to pit for repairs after having contact with a spinning Ferrari, which lost him around 20 minutes and meant the #23 GT-R was covered in gaffer tape for the remainder of the race.

The #23 car rejoined the race and began the fight back. In the dead of the night at the halfway mark, #23 had recovered to 25th place and #22 was steadily climbing up the order, finally breaking into the top 20.

The next milestone was the 18-hour mark. Pla, Paletou, Sanchez and Strauss had a very strong night and had climbed right up to 12th position overall and fifth place in the PRO AM class.  Buncombe, Chiyo and Reip were also running strongly in 18th place overall and 10th in the PRO class but trouble was looming just around the corner.

With just over five hours of the race remaining, Reip stopped on track in the #23 Nissan. What turned out to be a broken fuel relay fuse stopped the GT-R but in true endurance style team boss Bob Neville dispatched a mechanic to the scene, swiftly driven on a scooter by Alex Buncombe, and he was able to give Reip instructions on how to get the car going so he could get it back to the pits. Once back in the garage repairs were swift and #23 was quickly on its way.

Into the final two hours and the two GT-Rs were running well, but somebody spoke too soon and #22 pitted from 13th place (fifth in class) with a gearbox problem. The Nissan GT Academy Team RJN crew set to work and changed the gearbox in around 40 minutes so the car could get back out and finish the race.

The two Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s took the checkered flag after one of the toughest Spa 24 Hours yet, both in the points and both (practically) in one piece.

“When you consider all the events of the past 24 hours I think we got a good result but as always we hoped for more,” said Team Principal Bob Neville. “There are so many smashed up cars around here at the moment so to get both of our cars home and in the points is really great. It wasn’t easy but endurance racing never is!”

“The Spa 24 Hours is really the biggest test of not only the GT3 GT-Rs but also the winners of GT Academy,” said Nissan’s Darren Cox. “Every year we enter more of our graduates into a race that breaks the best of the best and every year they shine. Gaetan (Paletou) and Ricardo (Sanchez) are the new boys this year and they both did a professional job, which goes to prove their natural talent and the quality of our driver development program. GT Academy winners are winning all over the world and it is a privilege to see something that started as a small European program taking off globally.”

Nissan enters International lineup for Spa 24 Hours

  • Drivers from six different countries racing the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s at Spa
  • Four GT Academy winners to take on one of the world’s toughest endurance races
  • Full race will be streamed LIVE on NISMO.TV
  • New livery for #22 to be revealed next week

LONDON – 07.17.2015 – The longest and toughest race on the Blancpain Endurance Series schedule takes place at Spa-Francorchamps on July 25 and 26, and Nissan has entered a global cast of drivers from six different countries, including four winners of GT Academy. One of the best racing circuits in the world plays host to the best GT3 cars and drivers in the world for a 24-hour rollercoaster ride through the Ardennes forest in Belgium.

Last year’s Spa 24 Hours was marred by accidents occurring throughout the early stages, and it wasn’t until darkness fell that the race finally settled down. All of the Blancpain competitors will be hoping for a smoother start this year, in particular Alex Buncombe who had to take evasive action through Eau Rouge to avoid being wiped out.

Nissan has entered a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in the PRO class for the first time this year so current championship-leaders Alex Buncombe (GB), Katsumasa Chiyo (JAP) and local man and GT Academy winner Wolfgang Reip (BEL) will be battling hard for outright honors in the #23 Nissan.

“As always I will push hard to get the best possible result, remembering that anything can happen in 24 hours,” said Reip. “I love this track. I know it better than any other circuit, and having the support of my friends and the Belgian people gives me great motivation. I had a practice run in the 25-hour Fun Cup race last weekend. The car was nothing like the GT-R, but I drove for almost 10 hours in a lot of traffic, so it has really helped me to prepare for the Spa 24 Hours.”

Katsumasa Chiyo embarks on his second Spa 24 Hours and admits that last year’s race was an eye opener: “Last year I was shocked and almost overwhelmed by the scale and toughness of this event. The Spa 24 Hours is one of the most demanding endurance races in the Blancpain Endurance Series with over 60 GT3 cars, competitive manufacturers and teams, and top drivers competing fiercely. Last year we made it to the checkered flag, but we were unable to reach the top 10. This year, I am determined to get a good result and win valuable points. I am fully aware it is not easy to win the race, but I believe there are chances for us. I will fight with my team and teammates right through to the checkered flag.”

In the #22 PRO-AM Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, LM P1 racer Olivier Pla (FRA) will join three winners of GT Academy: Ricardo Sanchez (MEX), Gaetan Paletou (FRA) and Florian Strauss (GER), creating a truly international lineup for Nissan.

“This is a great challenge for me,” said Pla.  “I am not a GT specialist, but the principles are the same with all racing: You have to be smooth and maintain your focus. I have competed in the Spa 24 Hours four times now. It is a demanding race, and you have to work hard to manage the traffic. I had a good run in the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 at the Spa Test recently and I found the car easy to drive, especially through the fast corners where it feels very stable. That’s exactly what you need at Spa, so I think we will be strong in the 24 Hours.”

Ricardo Sanchez won GT Academy International last year, and after a good performance in the 2015 Dubai 24 Hours he earned himself a place on the Blancpain Endurance Series squad. The Mexican racer is looking forward to whatever Spa throws at him.

“This is one of the most important races in the world, and every driver would love to win it,” said Sanchez. “Blancpain has been challenging for me, as the level of the drivers is amazing and every team is very competitive. What is important for me is that I improve with every stint that I do. We all had good pace at the Spa Test, so I think we will have a strong race but we must always remember that to finish first, first you have to finish.”

The #23 will race at Spa in its regular red, white and black livery, but the #22 Nissan – which has run in black since the start of the season – will look rather different at Spa. Keep a close eye on the @NISMO Twitter account for a sneak preview next week.

The Spa 24 Hours gets underway on Saturday, July 25 at 16:30 hrs CET. The full race will be streamed LIVE on NISMO.TV, which will also feature onboard cameras and the return of Garage Cam.