We meant to get to this yesterday but alas, it’s still very much worth noting: Nissan’s NISMO Global Athlete Team took the win in the weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour race in Australia. It marks Nissan’s first win at Bathurst since 1992.
The lineup of Katsumasa Chiyo and Nissan GT Academy winners Wolfgang Reip and Florian Strauss – the latter a last-minute fill-in for Alex Buncombe, who was unable to attend the race due to the birth of his first child – completed an improbable comeback win in their No. 35 Nissan GT-R after a crash in qualifying on Saturday.
The crew worked tirelessly through the night to get the rear of the car repaired in order to make the start at 5:50 a.m. local time on Sunday. A consistent drive from the three of them, particularly by Reip in the early stages and Chiyo in the later ones, put them into position to win.
Chiyo’s heroics came in the final stint of the race off the last restart – the Nissan’s straight-line speed edge playing to the car’s benefit as Chiyo made several passes to get into the lead of the race.
“It is just unbelievable because I couldn’t imagine that end of the race, with a strong Audi and Bentley and we are still in the amateur class,” said Chiyo.
“The car is very good, it is very strong on the straight. I tried to imagine, it was just amazing, we couldn’t know what would happen in this race, but we just tried our best in the moment and then I had a chance in the final restart. It was just awesome. The car was amazing, and so was the team.”
Meanwhile there was an intense scrap for the final podium positions at the final few corners.
The polesitting No. 15 Phoenix Audi R8 LMS ultra of Marco Mapelli, Markus Winklehock and Laurens Vanthoor emerged second and the No. 97 Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 emerged third, with Stefan Mucke, Alex MacDowell and Darryl O’Young behind the wheel.
Those two cars, with Vanthoor and Mucke driving at the end, made aggressive moves to displace Matt Bell, who fell to a hard luck fourth place in the No. 10 Bentley Continental GT3 he shared with Guy Smith and Steven Kane.
The dramatic finish prompted a few tweets from some sports car aces not pleased with either the Nissan’s horsepower or Mucke’s final corner move.
The dramatic finish came after an incident-plagued 12-hour race, which featured 20 safety car periods. One of them was for an incident where Red Bull Stratos space jumper Felix Baumgartner, in the sister Phoenix Audi, knocked Ivo Breukers’ Mazda off the road at high speed at the top of the mountain. Breukers emerged unscathed but it was a nasty looking incident.
The race also failed to include the usual guest stars from the Australian V8 Supercars championship, who were on a test session this weekend to conflict. Nonetheless, the presence only increased the star potential of those who were at Mount Panorama this weekend.