#23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 wins 1000kms Blancpain Endurance Series race at Paul Ricard in France
Le Castellet, France – Nissan’s Alex Buncombe (GB), Katsumasa Chiyo (JAP) and Wolfgang Reip (BEL) took a commanding victory in Saturday’s 1000km Blancpain Endurance Series race, which ran into the night at Paul Ricard in France. This was the first overall Blancpain Endurance Series win for Nissan and the best possible warm up for next month’s Spa 24 Hours for Nissan GT Academy Team RJN.
The #23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 started from seventh on the 60+ car grid after receiving a five-place penalty for a pit lane infringement. Katsumasa Chiyo made a great start and immediately showed off the GT-R’s brakes to their full effect when a Ferrari, Bentley and McLaren crashed right in front of him at Turn Five. The Safety Car was dispatched while the track was cleared but once the race resumed Chiyo was soon up to second place, hunting down the Lamborghini that was in the lead.
We’ve worked so hard over the years to get a win like this,
Chiyo stayed in contact with the Lamborghini throughout his opening run and then pitted in order to let Reip carry on the charge. The 2012 winner of GT Academy set off after the leader but his charge was halted by a very long safety car period. He got away well at the re-start to continue the fight before handing over the GT-R to Buncombe.
The #23 squad now leads the Blancpain Endurance Series PRO Championship, just one point clear of Bentley. The team will head straight to Spa for the pre-Spa 24 Hours test day on Wednesday, thoroughly warmed up for their biggest race of the season.
“This is our first overall win in this championship,” said team boss Bob Neville. “We won the PRO AM title a couple of years ago and we won the GT4 title before that but this means everything to us. Bentley pushed us hard at the end but Al (Buncombe) just did his job and brought it home. To win a 1000kms race just before Spa is just what we needed. It couldn’t be better!”
“We’ve worked so hard over the years to get a win like this,” said Buncombe. “This is my first year in the PRO class alongside two amazing drivers and it all came together tonight. Chiyo has been a star all weekend. He is awesomely fast in the GT-R! The team were telling me the gap back to Kaney (Steven Kane – Bentley) at the end so I knew he was catching me. I ran wide once – I’m only human – and then had pick-up all over my tyres for a couple of laps but it all worked out well in the end!”