September 1, 2013


Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race

Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia (September 1st, 2013) - As part of the Nismo Global Driver Exchange Program, the Nismo Athlete Global Team, which participated in the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (also known as the "Sepang 12-hours") held at Sepang International Circuit, began the race in sixth position and finished similarly in sixth place.

The Nismo Athlete Global Team consists of three people: Wolfgang Reip (Belgium) and Mark Shulzhitskiy (Russia), both graduates of the Nissan GT Academy, a well-known program that gives gamers the chance to become real racers, as well as young Japanese driver Katsumasa Chiyo. Their car is an endurance spec Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, newly built for the team. The group met up on August 27th (Tuesday) to take part in a few practice runs and meetings in order to "gel" together, followed by the official qualifying sessions on Friday, and then the main race, which got underway at exactly midnight Saturday, running until lunchtime on Sunday.

Chiyo has a wealth of experience at this track, and he started the race from sixth place, the position earned in qualifying. The race started late at night, so his familiarity with the circuit was critical for pulling through the battle for position in the opening stages. Chiyo accumulated laps behind the top group, and waited for a chance to improve his position. However, just one hour into the race at 1:00am, the left rear wheel of his machine suddenly came off, and Chiyo was forced to slow down and return to the pit. There, the pit crew repaired the damage caused by the mechanical issue, and about 30 minutes later, Shulzhitskiy left the garage. With this unscheduled pit stop, the team's overall position had instantly tumbled to 30th, but there were no further problems or accidents thereafter, and the three young drivers recorded one quick lap after another. In the routine pit stops, the pit work was completed with SUPER GT-like efficiency with no time lost, and with each hour that passed, the team steadily moved up the leaderboard. Meanwhile, there were major shifts among the top-ranked cars, with teams favored for the win dropping out one by one, so that by dawn at 7:00am, they had climbed back into sixth place. As the sun rose, the temperature also increased rapidly. The track surface temperature also climbed suddenly, making for harsh conditions for tires. While other teams lowered their pace, the Nismo Athlete Global Team continued to complete laps at a quick and consistent pace all the way to the flag signaling the end of the race at noon.

Nismo Athlete Global Team driver Katsumasa Chiyo's comment:
“The two teammates I've met were nice and friendly, and they made things easy. The result was less than our best, but thanks to the pit crew who performed their job very efficiently, we were able to make up for the most of our delay. As someone who's familiar with the car and the circuit, I feel that I was able to play my part as well.”

Nismo Athlete Global Team driver Wolfgang Reip's comment:
“My race with this team has become such an invaluable experience for me. I am truly thankful on my first visit to this circuit, the new tires, my first race in Asia, and the great racing environment and other team members.”

Nismo Athlete Glabal Team driver Mark Shulzhitskiy's comment:
“I enjoyed the race. It is one of the best I have ever competed in. Teaming up with Chiyo, a great driver and a role model, was a great pleasure. I learned a lot in this race and hope to leverage this experience for the three races I have left this year.”

Nismo Athlete Global Team representative Toshikazu Tanaka's comment:
“We ended where we started, in sixth place, our result in qualifying - but the drivers did a great job. I trust that this has been a tremendous experience for them and that it will prove to be an important part of their learning experience as racing drivers. After having a problem at the beginning of the race, we lost 30 minutes (15 laps) and were unable to make it to the podium. Nevertheless, the entire team put on a SUPER GT-level performance with perfect execution throughout. The Nismo Athlete Global Team still has the Fuji Sprint Cup coming up in November and the Bathurst 12 Hour Race in February next year. Thank you for your continuous support.”

Click images above to see larger versions.


[ Race Results ] - 12 Hours
Pos No Machine Driver Laps Time
1 7 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 W.S.Mok / H.Hamaguchi / C.Baird 323 12:00:08.429
2 23 Lamborghini LP560-4 R.Lago / D.Russell / P.Kox 317 12:01:09.724
3 3 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 P.Lathouras / M.Salo / M.Rugolo 316 12:01:53.841
4 27 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 A.D'Silva / E.Bamber / A.Hamdan 316 12:02:11.673
5 8 Porsche GT3R D.O'Young / Vuthikorn / Siu Yuk Lung 314 12:00:09.584
6 35 Nissan GTR Nismo GT3 K. Chiyo / W. Reip / M.Shulzhitskiy 308 12:01:52.126

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