The Spa 24 Hours is often the biggest test faced by the NISMO Athletes in their first year of competition. This weekend’s race – the fourth 24-hour event for Nissan this year – sets the stage for the continuation of Nissan’s #eatsleepRACErepeat social media campaign, which has struck a chord with race fans the world over.
The 2014 Spa 24 Hours is also special as it’s team boss Bob Neville’s 25th 24-hour race. Bob is the man who has taken each GT Academy winner, guided them through gaining an international race licence and run the team that has given them all their first taste of real racing. Whilst doing this he has given them and Nissan many notable results, including wins at the Spa and Dubai 24 hours, numerous championships and multiple podiums from Castle Coombe to the Nurburgring. He is a great mentor and teacher to the young drivers.
It’s fitting that we decided to continue #eatsleepRACErepeat at Bob’s Silver Jubilee as it sums up his life perfectly!” said Darren Cox, NISMO Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales. “He continues to help mould our gamers into real racers that we can be proud of. We’re just about to present him with four new graduates so the cycle starts all over again. Before that though comes the Spa 24 Hours. We took a podium at Spa with an all-gamer line-up last year so let’s see if we can fight for more silverware again this time.”
While Nissan continues to #eatsleepRACErepeat, the next generation of GT Academy winners are about to be crowned. By the end of August the winners of GT Academies Europe (incorporating Russia), Germany, USA, Middle East and new markets Australia, India, Mexico and Thailand will be discovered.
Since it’s launch in 2008, Nissan PlayStation GT Academy has had over 5 million entrants, all wanting to be the next NISMO Athlete. The standards have been set very high for 2014 so the 96 finalists will have to throw everything they’ve got at Race Camp in order to become one of the four 2014 GT Academy winners.
Wolfgang Reip won GT Academy Europe two years ago. His first race at Spa was last year’s Spa 24 Hours and he came away with a podium finish. Along with Sir Chris Hoy, Wolfie took a podium finish at the most recent British GT round at Spa. The popular Belgian is looking for the hat-trick this week as he competes in the No. 80 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, alongside Alex Buncombe, Florian Strauss and Nick McMillen.
“The last British GT race reminded me how much I love to race at Spa,” said Reip. “The circuit suits the GT-R so we can really push there. For a local guy like me it is a very good feeling to be on the podium at Spa. I think with the team-mates I have, that I have every chance of another great result. Of course it is a 24 hour race so anything can happen but we will do everything we can to make sure we are in with a chance.”
The No.35 GT-R will be raced by Portugal’s Miguel Faisca, Russia’s Mark Shulzhitskiy – fresh from a fourth place finish at yesterday’s European Le Mans Series race – and Japan’s Katsumasa Chiyo and Masataka Yanagida. Twice Super GT Champion Yanagida is looking forward to racing at Spa for the first time in 15 years.
“I enjoyed working with my team mates and the RJN crew at the Spa test recently,” he said. “Spa is a great challenge for drivers with very technical combinations that require rhythmic driving, which reminds me of Suzuka in Japan. It had been a while since I drive the GT3 GT-R at its shakedown in Japan; the car has been developed since then and I was a bit surprised by it’s high speed. A 24-hour race requires not only speed, but also overall strength of the car, the team and the drivers. I will give everything I learned from my experience in Super GT to contribute to the team. I am determined to do my very best and look forward to working with my team at Spa.”
The 2014 Spa 24 Hours gets underway on Saturday at 16:30hrs CET and NISMO.TV will have all the action.