Motul Team RJN pulled off race finishes with its pair of Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s at the Spa 24 Hours, the second year in a row the team has finished the race with both cars.
The No. 23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Alex Buncombe, Katsumasa Chiyo and Lucas Ordóñez started 10th after a stunning performance by the former GT Academy winner Ordóñez in qualifying.
The Spaniard qualified for the Super Pole session in ninth and then recorded the 10th fastest lap in the qualifying shoot out.
A puncture early in the race put the No. 23 out of synch with some of its rivals, enabling the Nissan to lead the race at one stage.
The Spa 24 Hours was a massive race of attrition with only 35 of the 63 cars making it to the finish. The No. 23 GT-R suffered two unscheduled delays with brake issues, but it eventually crossed the line in 13th place – 12th in the Pro class.
“We’ve shown what we can do, but lady luck wasn’t on our side,” said Buncombe. “We had a couple of unscheduled stops which cost us some points, but the car’s pace was great. In the early morning we were doing the same times as the leaders. Our guys did a fantastic effort with the car. We had a couple of small issues, but we made the finish with a reasonable result. It was a shame we couldn’t quite get into the points with a top 10 but that’s the way it goes.”
The No. 22 GT-R of Australian GT Academy winner Matt Simmons, with Brits Struan Moore and Matt Parry, faced a massive race against time to even start the race.
Parry was at the wheel during qualifying on Thursday last week when he suffered a puncture entering the fast and famous Eau Rouge corner.
The car suffered massive front-end damage and the crew was forced to build up the team’s spare chassis. After working all night, the No. 22 GT-R was ready for its first shake down lap late on Friday last week and was on track for the Friday night warm-up session.
Forced by rules to start from the pit lane, the No. 22 GT-R suffered a setback on the opening lap with Moore having to take the role of mechanic when he stopped on track with a fuel valve issue.
He was able to make repairs with advice from the crew, and the No. 22 then ran without issue through the night.
The team looked set to make it a top-20 finish with an hour to go but then suffered a gearbox issue. Quick work by the Motul Team RJN squad had the car back on track for Parry to cross the line in 30th place.
“Finishing the 24 hours at Spa means a lot more than you can imagine,” said Simmons. “To finish here you really have to put everything together, and the entire team has worked so hard this weekend. The crew had a 24-hour workload before the 24-hour just to get us onto the grid. And then even in the race the guys pulled off an amazing performance to make sure we made it to the finish. I’m extremely proud to be a part of this team and proud that I have now had two Spa 24 race starts and two finishes under my belt.”
The team will now set its sights on the final round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Barcelona, September 30 and October 1.