Nissan has today confirmed that Alex Buncombe, Katsumasa Chiyo and Wolfgang Reip will return to Mount Panorama for the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour race, driving for its NISMO Athlete Global Team.
The trio will line-up in the #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 as the team seeks to build on the speed and potential shown at last year’s edition of the endurance event where Buncombe, Chiyo and Reip were joined by Nissan Motorsport V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly in the team’s driver line-up. Sadly, the GT-R NISMO GT3 failed to finish last year when the car was withdrawn after sustaining heavy damage in an incident at McPhillamy Park in the third hour of the race on lap 59.
Buncombe, the longest serving NISMO Athlete in Nissan’s global GT3 program that is also the training ground for Nissan GT Academy graduates, will be making his third Bathurst start in 12 months, having also teamed up with Todd Kelly in the Nissan Motorsport V8 Supercar team at last year’s Bathurst 1000. Buncombe also partnered Kelly at the Sandown 500 and Gold Coast 600 endurance events in 2014.
Chiyo returns to Mount Panorama with a wealth of new experience, having been based in Europe for most of 2014 as part of the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN squad in the Blancpain Endurance Series by virtue of the NISMO Global Driver Exchange program. Chiyo raced the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in major GT events such as the Nürburgring 24 Hours, Spa 24 Hours, Bathurst 12 Hour and Macau GT Cup. Chiyo is one of the young rising stars of Japanese motorsport, winning the Japanese Formula 3 Championship N Class title in 2011.
Reip, the 2012 Nissan GT Academy Europe winner, who enters only his third year of motorsport in 2015, is one of the shining examples of Nissan’s gamer-to-racer mantra. Despite having no motorsport experience just three years ago, the Belgian driver’s CV already includes feats such as driving the first fully-electric lap of Le Mans and second place at the 2014 British GT Championship event at his home circuit of Spa-Franchorchamps.