February 9, 2014
BATHURST, Australia (Sunday, 9 February 2014) - The Nismo Athlete Global Team has crashed out of the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour in a scary incident at the Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales today.
Japanese driver Katsumasa Chiyo was behind the wheel of the #32 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, when on lap 59 he made heavy impact with the spun Clearwater Ferrari 458 on the exit of McPhillamy Park.
The Ferrari had hit the wall on the entry to McPhillamy Park, the damage seeing fluid drop onto the circuit on the fast, blind corner. Chiyo was unable to avoid the stricken Ferrari as he slid on the fluid, resulting in a heavy impact with the front of the Ferrari.
Chiyo was taken to the circuit medical center for precautionary checks, but was uninjured.
Significant damage was sustained to the right rear corner of the #32 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, ruling it out of the race after what had been a promising start on a weekend where the Nismo entry was one of the leading contenders and fan favorites across the event.
After qualifying the car in fifth place on Saturday, local hero Rick Kelly started the race aboard the GT-R, performing a strong two-hour double stint that saw the entry rise to third place.
Kelly then handed the car to Chiyo, who also showed good form to hit the track and resume the battle for third with the Darrell Lea McLaren MP4 12C.
Unfortunately, the accident meant that Alex Buncombe and Wolfgang Reip did not get a chance to drive in today's race, unable to capitalize on their practice and qualifying form.
The return of a factory-run Nissan GT-R to Bathurst for the first time since Nissan's back-to-back Bathurst 1000 wins in 1991-92 was one of the big stories of the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour, with Australian fans embracing ‘Godzilla’ and the Nismo team as one of their favorites.
NISMO ATHLETE GLOBAL TEAM - DRIVER QUOTES
Rick Kelly (Australia), Nismo Athlete Global Team, #32 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3
“It's really disappointing,“ said Rick Kelly.
“I know this feeling, when you go to Bathurst and you have a good shot and it gets taken away. That's racing.
“We just got caught out. The Ferrari dropped its guts everywhere, stopped on the track and poor Chiyo had nowhere to go on the fluid and went straight in very hard. That's what's it's like across the hill.
“We were trying to get through unscathed for the first eight or 10 hours and worry about our position later on.
“It's a shame for the Nismo team to have a car leave this track in that condition. It's really been a pleasure for me to work with these guys. You see the emotion now that we're out of the race. They care about it so much.
“We were doing 2m05s and 2m06s in the first stint. We were trying to conserve fuel and push hard, which was tough. The Mercedes was very forceful and drove into my door in the opening stages when I had a slower car on the outside, but it was fierce racing. I expected it to be a little more casual that that so early in a long race. It's a real credit to the category for how competitive it really is.”
Katsumasa Chiyo (Japan), Nismo Athlete Global Team, #32 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT-3
“It was so unfortunate,“ said Katsumasa Chiyo.
“When I entered Turn 10, I saw single yellow flag, so I take care. When I entered Turn 10 the car spun, I cannot control the car and the rear section hit to stopped Ferrari. We lost the rear suspension. I could not drive to continue the race.
“Unfortunately, it's over. The Nissan Nismo staff did very hard work coming to Australia for the Bathurst 12 Hour race. So we are very disappointed.“
Alex Buncombe (England), Nismo Athlete Global Team, #32 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT-3
“As a team, and me as a driver, we were really up for this race,“ said Alex Buncombe.
“We had a really strong package, which in endurance racing, isn't always the way.
“We were looking really good. Rick drove really well in those first stints, and it was really looking good. I couldn't wait to get in the car and get stuck into it. To see it end in such a way is terrible for the Nismo team.”
Wolfgang Reip (Belgium), Nismo Athlete Global Team, #32 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3
“It's such a shame that the race has ended like this,“ said Wolfgang Reip.
“We were P4 at that time, but it's just unlucky. It's just racing. A car stopped in front of us and dropped some water, so Chiyo couldn't do anything to avoid the car. Especially at that corner, it's blind, so he was very surprised. “The most important thing is that Chiyo is OK and hopefully we can comeback next time.”