SILVERSTONE, UK – Nissan GT Academy Team RJN took victory in the Pro-Am class of the Blancpain Endurance Series race at Silverstone today. The win for the No.35 YouTube Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 is the first class victory for Nissan in the Blancpain Series, made all the more sweet as it took place at the home of GT Academy.
With sweet often comes sour and Silverstone was no exception as the No.32 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 retired in the late stages of the race with a technical fault.
Qualifying took place on Sunday morning and a stunning lap from, Alex Buncombe put the No.35 into second place on the grid alongside the factory Aston Martin Racing entry on pole position. Starting honors were Lucas Ordonez’ today and the Spaniard went head to head with Aston Martin’s double Le Mans winner Darren Turner. A brilliant start from Lucas saw him take the lead on the first lap.
“As we came around for the rolling start I kept my eye on Darren’s wing mirror so I made sure I didn’t go ahead of him before the race went green,” explained Lucas. “I made a good getaway and managed to go around the outside in the first corner. After that I tried hard to pull away but I had to make sure I looked after my tires too.”
In the meantime, the No.32 GT-R had more of a drama-filled start as Wolfgang Reip tried to make up places from 33rd place. An accident in front of him caused confusion and the Belgian had to make an early pit stop for some quick bodywork repairs. He rejoined further down the field but was soon setting competitive lap time.
After 13 laps of keeping the Aston Martin at bay Lucas lost out to a backmarker and Turner swept past into the lead, hotly pursued by the Nissan. Lucas pitted after an hour of racing to hand over to 2012 GT Academy Germany winner, Peter Pyzera. The German was immediately on the pace of the pro cars but unfortunately received a drive through penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. This dropped No.35 to the bottom of the top ten but Peter held onto the top spot in Pro-Am.
Steve Doherty took the wheel of No.32 for the second stint and, like his fellow GT Academy winners, he put in a professional performance as he tried to move the GT-R back up the order. He made good progress before handing the car over to Mark Shulzhitskiy.
“I went out into the race and did one lap where everything was okay,” said Mark. “Then on my second lap I suddenly lost power. I thought I could get back to the pits but then I saw smoke so I pulled over by the fire marshal. It’s a shame to end with a technical problem.”
The cause of the problem will be diagnosed once the car arrives back at the RJN workshop.
Alex Buncombe took the final stint in the remaining GT-R and brought it hope safely in 10th place overall but in first place in the Pro-Am class.
“The car was fantastic to drive today,” said his teammate Lucas. “It was very well balanced and I really enjoyed having a good battle out there, even when I was having to guess the racing lines of some of the backmarkers. I feel very motivated now and this is great timing as it is Le Mans next for us!”
Lucas definitely had it all hooked up today as he did the fastest lap during the race. From a grid of almost 60 cars with 20 fully pro entries that is no mean feat.
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