OYAMA TOWN, Japan – British drivers Alex Buncombe and Jann Mardenborough both made impressive Japanese track debuts on the opening day of the SUPER GT official test, held at Fuji Speedway on August 6 and 7.
Driving the NDDP Racing-entered Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, the pair of NISMO Global Driver Exchange drivers was immediately on the pace, setting assertively-quick times within their first handful of laps behind the wheel of the GT300 machine.
Alongside the day's regular driver Kazuki Hoshino, the visitors both got repeat stints at the controls of the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, a machine similar in every way to the car they campaign in the Blancpain Endurance Series and FIA GT Series - except, of course, for its tires. When queried, each of the pilots commented on the difference in the car's behavior on the highly developed Yokohama rubber found on the SUPER GT car.
The morning's dry but muggy conditions continued after lunch, eventually giving way to rain at the very end of the day's running.
Each driver was able to conduct his own test menu, and both successfully completed their rookie tests. Despite their relative unfamiliarity with the track, the surroundings and the car's tires, both of the drivers posted best lap times that were within a second of the top time recorded in the car on the day.
"For myself and Jann this is really a warm-up for the Fuji Sprint Cup in November. We're here basically to settle in to the car, the circuit and the team - and see how it goes from there. The car is the same as the one we drive in Europe, apart from the tires - and that makes a huge difference. The general feel of the tire is very, very good. A little better than what we're used to, actually. I'm really impressed with the way the whole program here is run to be honest; it's really professional."
"Ever since watching Japanese motorsport videos I've always wanted to come here. To be able to come here and race here in the future is absolutely incredible. There's so much technology here it's just amazing - and everybody's been really nice as well. The track is also amazing. I've done plenty of laps here on the Gran Turismo so I know which way it goes, and driving the GT300 car, it's nice to compare it to the European car. On the Yokohama tires it is pretty different; the front end of the car is a lot more positive. When they're new, you can lean quite a lot on the tire here."
NISMO Race Department Race Support Group Senior Manager Taro Kumagai
"Both drivers who participated in today's test got right down to work and really impressed, not only with their speed, but also their wholly professional attitudes. Already familiar with the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, each of them displayed remarkably high levels of performance, quickly adapting to the car and the conditions - qualities that are essential for any top-flight drivers, and the type we look forward to working with in the future. With the pace they both displayed, Team Director (Masahiro) Hasemi immediately gave them both passing grades on their rookie tests."
# # #