Published on January 20th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Nissan stands ready to defend their Bathurst title
Last year’s Bathurst endurance race was one of the most spectacular, featuring teams fighting it out to the last corner- and of course the R35 GT-R running away with the top spot. Nissan has confirmed the driver line-up for its Bathurst 12 Hour defense, with former V8 Supercars champion Rick Kelly to partner 2015 winners Katsumasa Chiyo and GT Academy winner Florian Strauss at the endurance classic on February 5-7, 2016.
The trio will drive the #1 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 for the NISMO Athlete Global Team at the iconic Mount Panorama circuit, where Nissan will aim to win back-to-back Bathurst 12 Hour victories, emulating the success of the Nissan GT-R at the Bathurst 1000 in 1991 and 1992. Kelly enters the Bathurst 12 Hour for the second time, after a strong showing in the opening stint of the race in 2014, only for the NISMO entry to fall out of the event in the early stages.
Chiyo will return to the Bathurst 12 Hour after starring in last year’s race, where he jumped into the lead on the penultimate lap to claim a spectacular win. Chiyo was one of the most successful GT sportscar drivers in the world in 2015, winning the Blancpain GT Endurance Series PRO Class title in Europe as well as the Super GT Championship GT300 Teams title in Japan.
Strauss was a late inclusion in the NISMO entry in 2015 but shone at the event, despite it being his first race at Mount Panorama and only beginning his racing career 18 months prior. Previously the manager of a car rental center, Strauss won the 2013 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy competition, switching from gamer-to-racer to become a professional racing driver for Nissan.
While the traditional racing number of Nissan and NISMO globally is the #23, the entry will carry the #1 at the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour, to signify its status as defending race winner. The car will remain in Australia permanently following the race. The latest specification car includes improvements to brakes, handling, aerodynamics and driver ergonomics.
Australian gamer-turned-racer Matt Simmons, winner of the 2015 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy International competition, will form a part of the NISMO Athlete Global Team crew at the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour, learning from drivers and engineers as he prepares to make his professional racing debut in the 2016 Blancpain GT Endurance Series in a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.