Entering the classic GT endurance race with two cars, Nissan has selected 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour winner Katsumasa Chiyo, experienced Bathurst campaigner Alex Buncombe and local gun Michael Caruso to drive the #23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, while fellow 2015 race winner Florian Strauss will be joined by race debutants Jann Mardenborough and Todd Kelly.
Japanese star Chiyo has been one of the most popular drivers at the race in recent years, with his on-track flair and his off-track personality proving a winner with the fans.
Chiyo’s co-drivers, Buncombe and Caruso, will prove to be one of the fastest line-ups in the competitive 61 car field.
The #24 car sees 2005 Bathurst 1000 winner Todd Kelly joined by two GT Academy stars that have made the most of their ‘gamer to racer’ status. Strauss needs no introduction to Bathurst having finished first and second in his two attempts (2015 and 2016).
Mardenborough is regarded as one of the best GT Academy talents to filter through the system and starred in his first season in Japan last year in Super GT and Formula 3 – he will be one to watch as he makes his Mount Panorama debut.
The Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 has been a dominant global performer in recent years having tasted championship success in both Europe and Japan and as well as winning races in Australia and the USA.
The 2017 ‘once-around-the-clock’ race will be the fourth-straight year that Nissan has entered the race with a fully-fledged factory effort.
In 2014, Alex Buncombe, Wolfgang Reip, Rick Kelly and Katsumasa Chiyo failed to finish after Chiyo was involved in an early morning incident at the top of the mountain.
Vowing to make amends, Chiyo, Reip and Florian Strauss made international headlines with victory in 2015, defeating a strong line-up of international and local competitors.
Last year, Chiyo, Rick Kelly and Florian Strauss went within a whisker of repeating the feat, finishing second to the McLaren entry.
The 2017 Nissan entry marks the first time that the manufacturer has entered two cars in the race.
The two GT-R NISMO GT3s will be prepared by a combination of engineers, mechanics and staff from Japanese-based NISMO International, Team RJN from the UK and the local Nissan Motorsport Supercars team.