Published on September 22nd, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Nissan comes 3rd at Nurburgring during Blancpain Endurance Championship, become overall winners
The #23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 line-up of Alex Buncombe (GB), Katsumasa Chiyo (JAP) and Wolfgang Reip (BEL) has won the Blancpain Endurance PRO Driver’s Championship. Third place in a nail-biting, season-closing race at the Nürburgring in Germany sealed the title win for Nissan after a season of hard racing in what is accepted to be the biggest GT championship in the world.
Nissan has previously taken the GT4 European title and more recently the Blancpain Endurance PRO AM title. This year is the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN’s first attempt at the PRO title, so it is a huge accomplishment to win in its debut PRO season. The Nissan drivers set themselves up for a good race when Buncombe took second overall in qualifying, bagging a front row starting spot for the #23 GT-R. Gaetan Paletou (FRA) then continued the great form he has shown at the Nürburgring, taking the PRO AM pole position, which was eighth place on the overall grid.
When the lights went green, it was the #173 Always Evolving Nissan GT-R of Craig Dolby that dived to the inside to take the race lead. Chiyo took the outside line from his side of the grid and came out in fourth place despite a shove from one of the Bentleys. By the end of lap one, the #23 car was in fourth with Tincknell in 10th place in the sister #22 GT-R.
Chiyo managed to slip into third place after a few minutes and set off after the second placed Lamborghini, but despite his best efforts there was no way through. When the Lamborghini pitted just before the one-hour mark, Chiyo was into clear air and he soon began to pull away from the Mercedes behind him.
Unfortunately for Harry Tincknell, the #22 GT-R didn’t make it to the one-hour mark after falling foul of a throttle problem, the end result of which saw the car being pitched into the pit wall by a following Ferrari. This also meant that 2014 GT Academy winners, Gaetan Paletou (FRA) and Ricardo Sanchez (MEX), didn’t get to race today. Back in the PRO class, Chiyo pitted just after one-hour to hand over to 2012 GT Academy winner, Wolfgang Reip. A slick pitstop by the RJN crew got “Wolfie” out in the lead, which he held onto throughout his run with an assured and confident drive.
All that remained was for Alex Buncombe to jump in for the final stint and take the GT-R to the checkered flag. It wasn’t that simple though as Buncombe left the pits with the #7 Bentley – that was also in contention for the championship – filling his rear view mirror. The next hour lasted an eternity for Nissan, as the team watched Buncombe hold off the advances of Bentley’s Steven Kane. He managed to get through just a few laps before the end, but for Bentley to take the title from Nissan they would have had to catch and pass the race-winning McLaren that was already a long way up the road.