Nissan’s Alex Buncombe was part of the driver line-up that triumphed in last year’s Blancpain Endurance Series, but this week the Englishman is eagerly awaiting the return of the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 to the Blancpain Sprint Series at Misano in Italy.
For 2016, Nissan will contest both the Endurance and Sprint rounds of the Blancpain GT Series with the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli staging the opening sprint event before the teams return to Italy two weeks later for the first endurance race at Monza.
Buncombe will drive alongside Japanese ace Mitsunori Takaboshi aboard the No.23 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN entry with former Mexican GT Academy winner Ricardo Sanchez and newly signed NISMO athlete Sean Walkinshaw driving the No.22 entry.
The Misano sprint round will feature two x one-hour races on (one each on Saturday and Sunday) with the first race conducted at night with a green flag at 8:50pm. The first endurance race two weeks later at Monza features a single three-driver, three-hour event.
“I can’t wait to get going in Misano. It has been a long winter and I’m really looking foward to getting back behind the wheel of the GT-R in the sprint series,” Buncombe said.
“It will be a new challenge for the team and the drivers as well. Qualifying is going to be crucial because you only have a single pit stop with a pit window between 25 and 35 minutes into the race.
“There are 40 cars on the grid at Misano and it is quite a small track so my V8 Supercars experience may come in handy with a bit of door-to-door action.
“The tactics between the sprint and endurance races are quite different. In the endurance events you have to look after your tyres but it is going to be flat out in the sprint races.”
Takaboshi is following in the footsteps of Katsumasa Chiyo who spent the past two seasons in Europe, winning the Blancpain Endurance Series with Buncombe last year.
“Takaboshi-san did a great job at the Paul Ricard test. He obviously knows the car but the team, the circuits and the series are all new to him,” Buncombe said.
“He has some big shoes to fill following on from Chiyo-san but I am sure he is going to be fast and on the pace. For this weekend he will really be jumping in the deep end. He not only has to learn the circuit but the first race is at night which will also be new for him.
“He has a lot of experience in Japan so I am sure he will adapt and I am really looking forward to being his teammate.”
Cars hit the track for the first time on Friday, April 8 for practice. Saturday’s (April 9) one-hour race goes green at 8:50pm local time with Sunday’s (April 10) sprint kicking off at 2:15pm.