Last year's Eurocup Megane Trophy champion, Nick Catsburg, was invited by Renault Sport Technologies and Nismo to test with the Nissan GT-R GT1 on the Motegi track in Japan, in recognition of his title-winning performances. The two days of tests, on March 1st and 2nd, under changeable track conditions, went off very smoothly. Nick Catsburg impressed observers with his serious work and his turn of pace.
It's an experience I'm not about to forget and the trip was as rewarding in sporting terms as culturally.
At the initiative of Renault Sport Technologies and Nissan Motorsports International (Nismo), Nick Catsburg, 22, flew to Japan to perform two days of testing aboard the Nissan GT-R GT1. The first surprise on arriving at the Motegi circuit was the snow out to welcome the winner of the 2010 Eurocup Megane Trophy! The weather however did not hinder the smooth progress of these two days of testing.
Welcomed for starters by Ryo Watanabe, head of the Nissan Driver Development Program, the young Dutch driver was then assigned to Keisuke Negishi, track engineer heading the GT1 project and Michael Krumm, Nismo official driver, enrolled in the FIA GT1 World Championship.
On Tuesday, March 1st, Toshikazu Tanaka, Nismo Corporate Vice President, introduced Nick Catsburg to the team and set out the roadmap for the test days. The morning session was cancelled because of the weather conditions, so the tests went ahead in the afternoon from 13.30 to 16.00. After preliminary laps driven by Michael Krumm, Nick Catsburg got behind the wheel of the Nissan GT-R at 15.00. "It was the first time that the Nissan GT-R had been driven on this circuit," explained Nick Catsburg. "So Michael Krumm signed off with the set-up and that the car was running ok before handing over the controls to me. I did a first run on the dry track and then the rain came down. So I completed my second run on treaded tires on a wet track."
The next day, Nick Catsburg notched up a much longer series of laps, completing a total of 49 timed laps and about 345 kilometers on the Motegi circuit. Progressing surely and steadily, the winner of the Eurocup Megane Trophy 2010 returned an error-free performance and applied himself very attentively to following the instructions of the Nismo team and Michael Krumm.
"It's an experience I'm not about to forget and the trip was as rewarding in sporting terms as culturally", concluded Nick Catsburg. "I've been fortunate to work with such a professional team as Nismo and I learned a lot from Michael Krumm. I quickly adapted to the power of the car and its behaviour. It was getting used to the carbon brakes that I found toughest to work out, but I gradually got the hang. The engineers had warned me, if I caused any red flags, it would have been the end of the tests for me. So I applied myself to not making mistakes and I think steadily progressed. I ended up doing some good times and, especially, I was able to talk to Keisuke Negishi and the team an awful lot."
"Working with a factory team is now the primary goal for me career-wise. For me, the future lies in GT. I'm taking nothing for granted, but my goal in 2011 is to drive in GT3 while at the same time competing in 24 hour races. But these tests also make me want to drive again in Eurocup Megane Trophy, to try to win a second title and relive such a great experience at the end of 2011."
Keisuke Negishi, Nick Catsburg's track engineer for the two days, was able to measure the steady improvement in the Dutchman as he got more laps under his belt. "Nick did a good job, despite the capricious weather. He braked too early in the early laps, but it was getting better and better." Michael Krumm also expressed his enthusiasm at the conclusion of these tests. "Nick has met all our expectations. When we gave him advice, he applied it immediately, so he went faster and faster. In the end, he wasn't far from my times."
Satisfied with the way Nick Catsburg shaped up, Nismo and Renault Sport Technologies can already announce that the winner of the Eurocup Megane Trophy 2011 will also be rewarded with a test. This will take place in December 2011 on the Fuji Speedway.
-source: renault sport