After qualifying 22nd overall, 2016 GT Asia champion Edoardo Liberati took the start in the #39 Nissan, which led the Hong Kong-squad to a 1-2 Pro-Am finish in the ADAC Qualification Race in May.
He got himself into the top 20 by the end of his double stint and handed over to 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Nico Menzel, who brought the team up to 13th. Nordschleife veteran Christer Jöns improved further while FIA World Endurance Championship driver Matthieu Vaxiviere consolidated a top 15 spot.
During his second run, however, a mechanical issue caused Nico to crash and retire the car approaching the 10-hour mark.
Super Formula and Super GT star Joao Paulo de Oliveira started in the #38 car from 30th, but immediately made progress and was up nine places by the end of the second lap. He was on the verge of breaking well inside the top 20 when his double stint finished and he handed over to Christian Menzel, who then looked to bring KCMG inside the top 10.
Philipp Wlazik put in a strong stint but their race ended a little after quarter-race distance when another competitor collided with Josh Burdon during a Code 60, causing massive damage to the car. Thankfully, Josh was unhurt in the accident.
The next event for KCMG’s Nissan will be the third round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the Total 24 Hours of Spa on 25-28 July.
Josh Burdon, #38 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “My first Nürburgring 24 Hours was a mega experience. Unfortunately, it had a less than ideal ending, as the race did not go as we envisioned after being taken out by a car not paying attention in a slow zone. Nevertheless, what an amazing effort by everyone at KCMG. Development for this programme only began a couple of months ago, so to be running in the top 15 before our incident is a great achievement. A big thank you to KCMG and my team-mates for their great work.”
Christian Menzel, #38 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “I see the race from two sides – we just had a lot of bad luck. I’ve known for a long time you have to get up and carry on. We were really fast and already in 12th when Josh had this terrible accident, and I’m glad he’s okay. What makes me proud is to see how good our team is, what we have built in this short time. The great team spirit, how systematically we have made the car better and how everyone always works in the interests of the team.”
Philipp Wlazik, #38 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “It’s a shame for us as a team because they worked really well and did a mega job during all the preparation and the race. It’s sad for them but we showed that we are on the pace. We were able to come close to the top 10 when we went out so finishing there was a possibility.”
Joao Paulo de Oliveira, #38 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on our race. We had a strong qualifying session but have to admit it was a strange feeling not going into the shoot-out having been four seconds faster than some cars that qualified. Starting in 30th was not ideal, but we managed to move up the order in the first two stints. We were running 12th at one point and I was really looking forward to driving at night. Unfortunately, the accident happened and ended our hopes of fighting for a strong finish. For a first year, I think we gathered useful data and this experience will surely be very valuable in the future. Thanks to all the mechanics and engineers for their intense work over the past few months.”
Edoardo Liberati, #39 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “Retiring the car halfway through the race while running close to top 10 hurts quite a lot. But we have to take all the positive things out of it. I am very proud of what we achieved with a few months of preparation. A big congratulations to all the boys and girls at KCMG for the stunning job. It was a pleasure to share the car with my team-mates, so big thanks to them as well.”
Christer Jöns, #39 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “The exciting Nürburgring 24 Hours race week was ended by a team barbeque on Monday evening. Our performance was good and KCMG established a competitive strategy but unfortunately right before 2am a technical issue stopped us in a top 20 position. There was just no luck for us this year.”
Nico Menzel, #39 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “Obviously we’re not very happy as we tried to get both cars to the finish, but both crashed. Personally, I was quite lucky that the car wasn’t that damaged and I’m okay. But I think we learnt a lot and it’s been a pleasure working with KCMG.”
Matthieu Vaxiviere, #39 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “We’re not satisfied with the result, but I’m really happy about the work that the team put into this race. It was a pleasure to work with KCMG and meet the boss Paul Ip. I hope to work with them again soon because it was a great experience. We were quite quick, just unfortunate – we need a bit more luck but we can create our own, so we need to work even more.”
Paul Ip, KCMG Founder: “Of course it’s disappointing not to have either car finish the race, especially when our preparation was so good, competing in three VLN Endurance Championship races and scoring a great result in the Qualification Race. But we know that the team and drivers did absolutely everything they could to make this weekend positive and we showed some good pace out of it, we just got a bit unlucky and that happens in motor racing sometimes. I am relieved that both Josh and Nico are okay after their incidents and we look ahead now to the next challenge at Spa.”
Source. KCMG/Photo. Frits Van Eldik