June 30, 2014
LE CASTELLET, FRANCE (Sunday 29 June 2014) - The Nissan squad of Katsumasa Chiyo (JAP), Stanislav Aksenov (RUS) and Miguel Faisca (POL) took third place in round three of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Paul Ricard in the south of France on Saturday night. After pro-am victory last time out for the sister No.80 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 it was perhaps fitting for the No.35 GT-R to take home the silverware after racing into the night at this event.
Saturday morning's qualifying session was a great success for Nissan GT Academy Team RJN. Alex Buncombe grabbed third place overall and Pro-Am pole position, while Katsumasa Chiyo was hot on his heels after taking fifth place overall and third in Pro-Am. Unfortunately for Buncombe he was judged to have completed his fastest lap just as a red flag came out so, after all that effort, he was penalized and the No.80 would have to start from 32nd place.
Katsumasa Chiyo was quick out of the blocks when the race began on Saturday evening, muscling his way through to second place and making sure the race-leading McLaren's mirrors were full of GT-R throughout the first stint. After a compelling drive he relinquished second place to a PRO class Bentley, choosing to let the PRO cars have their own race while he was still leading the Pro-Am battle.
In the No.80 GT-R, Florian Strauss had been taking tips from the fast-starting Alex Buncombe and after 15 laps of racing he had moved up from 32nd on the grid to 16th position. Sadly for the German a small error towards the end of the stint saw him go off track briefly and lose ten positions.
The driver changes went smoothly and Nick McMillen and Stanislav Aksenov both had good runs during the middle stint of the race, despite the challenge of racing into the setting sun.
Alex Buncombe and Miguel Faisca jumped in for the final stint, which ran into full darkness at Paul Ricard. By the checkered flag the No.35 GT-R had held on to third place in Pro-Am (10th overall), taking a hard-earned podium finish, while the No.80 GT-R had to settle for 12th in Pro-Am and 22nd place overall after a spirited but unrewarded charge by Buncombe.
“The team have all worked so hard, coming here straight from the Nurburgring,” said Chiyo after the race. “I wanted to get the Pro-Am win for them and I tried my very best but this time we couldn't do it. We will come back stronger for the Spa 24 Hours.”
Nissan GT Academy Team RJN is now leading the Pro-Am teams classification after three rounds of the Blancpain Endurance Series.
The next event in the Blancpain Endurance Series is the most prestigious one of all: the Spa 24 Hours. Nissan GT Academy Team RJN will now head directly for Spa for Wednesday's official test that precedes the big race, which takes place at the end of July.
Two-time SUPER GT GT500 Champion, Masataka Yanagida, has been drafted in to bolster the Nissan driver line-up and he will take to the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps track this week, alongside the regular Nissan squad.
The full race line-ups for Spa will be announced soon.