Nissan racers take PRO-AM podium at Nogaro

Silverware brightens up a grey afternoon in the South of France

Lucas Ordonez and Alex Buncombe took their YouTube-liveried Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 to third place in the Pro-Am class of the FIA GT Series race at Nogaro in France today. Team mates Wolfgang Reip and Mark Shulzhitskiy, two of Nissan’s newest gamers-turned-racers, took a creditable fifth in class after competing in conditions that made it hard for even the professionals to keep all four wheels on the tarmac.

The teams were greeted by grey skies this morning when they arrived at Nogaro for the main race of the weekend. The weather hadn’t been typical for the South of France all weekend but it saved the worst for race day. This was great news for Nissan though as the GT-R is suited best to circuits where it can really ‘stretch its legs’ but the twists and turns of Nogaro were nicely watered down by the rain, which helped to put the GT-Rs back on a level playing field.

#35 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3: Lucas Ordonez, Alex Buncombe
#35 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3: Lucas Ordonez, Alex Buncombe

Photo by: SRO/VIMAGES/Fabre

The FIA GT Series has two races each weekend. The qualifying race took place yesterday and it looked like Alex and Lucas were closing in on a good grid position for today’s big race, until Lucas was taken out by a BMW, whose driver later received a 30 second penalty for his actions. This left Lucas with a lot of work to do today as he had to start from 19th place on the grid. In the No.32 GT-R Wolfie and Mark finished a solid 14th in the qualifying race, turning in a quality performance in their first ever high profile sprint race.

Today’s main race started behind the safety car due to the rain. The safety car controlled the pack through lap one and then the race was on. Wolfie found himself having to hold off a charging Stephane Ortelli for a lap then not long after that it became Gamer vs. F1 driver when Wolfie was challenging Karun Chandhok!

With the wet conditions catching out the professionals and even the race leaders crashing into one another the performance of Nissan’s gamers was first class at Nogaro. Wolfie handed the No.32 GT-R over to Mark halfway through the race and the Russian GT Academy winner then had a clean run to the flag, taking 14th place overall and fifth in the Pro-Am class.

In the No.35 YouTube GT-R Alex had taken over from Lucas and was powering his way through to an incredible eighth place overall, which translated as third place in Pro-Am. A fantastic result for the first FIA GT race of the season.

#35 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3: Lucas Ordonez, Alex Buncombe
#35 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3: Lucas Ordonez, Alex Buncombe

Photo by: SRO/VIMAGES/Fabre

Nissan’s Director of Global Motorsport, Darren Cox, commented: “That was a great drive by the guys in the YouTube GT-R; exactly the professional standard we would expect to see from Al and Lucas. Imagine where they could have finished if they hadn’t been taken out in the qualifying race! It’s always a great pleasure for us to see our guys racing against ex-F1 drivers like Karun Chandhok and Ricardo Zonta as it’s a very clear indication of their abilities.

“The conditions were very difficult for Wolfie and Mark. These guys only started racing at the end of last year so to come here and keep a cool head in these conditions is remarkable. They weren’t fazed at all and both put in very creditable performances and brought the car home in one piece on a day when many more experienced drivers didn’t.“


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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Ricardo Zonta , Stéphane Ortelli , Karun Chandhok , Alex Buncombe , Lucas Ordonez , Wolfgang Reip , Mark Shulzhitskiy
Teams Nissan Motorsport
Article type Race report
Tags alex buncombe, lucas ordonez, nissan, nogaro, proam