SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium – Despite a troubled race at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Nissan GT Academy Team RJN got both Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 machines to the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps checkered flag.
The team’s PRO entry of Lucas Ordonez, Mitsunori Takaboshi and Alex Buncombe showed strong race pace despite starting 43rd on the 69-car grid.
The trio moved their way through pack rising up to 20th by the 18th hour of race. Their efforts were hampered by a series of unfortunately timed full course yellow safety car periods.
However with five hours, 25 minutes remaining, the team was forced to pit to repair a rear brake light issue. The wet weather that Spa is renowned for finally hit with four hours, 48 minutes remaining, but then trouble struck three and a half hours to go when the No.23 GT-R lost drive.
The team was able to get the car back to the pit box and went through a gearbox change in only 60 minutes. The Spanish/Japanese/English trio then had an untroubled run to the flag – including avoiding the drama that kicked off with a sudden rain shower with 30 minutes to go – to cross the line in 44th place.
The No.22 PRO-AM car featured Sean Walkinshaw (UK) alongside GT Academy winners Ricardo Sanchez (Mexico), Matt Simmons (Australia) and Romain Sarazin (France).
The quartet also showed good race pace but were hampered after five hours when Sanchez stopped on course with an electrical-based fuel pump issue. The Mexican showed off his mechanical talents to get the car mobile again (circuit breaker issue) to get the car back to the pits where the crew completed a full repair.
From that point forward, the four young drivers each gained valuable experience as the team completed an untroubled run to finish in 37th place.
“Luck wasn’t on our side, but in true Spa style we just kept at it and got both cars to the finish line,” said team boss Bob Neville. “Some teams had massive hopes of a strong result here and weren’t able to pull it off, and other drivers come here for years without ever getting a race finish, so to get both cars home is quite an achievement. We didn’t have the pace we would have liked, but in race conditions the cars were quite strong and I’m delighted we were able to battle through some headaches in the race to get to the finish.”
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