Following the traditional parade from the circuit to Spa city centre and drivers’ autograph signing, the two cars hit the legendary 7.004km track for the first official session of the race week with Free Practice on Thursday morning.
With a smooth run during Practice and Pre-Qualifying, both cars demonstrated top 20 capabilities during their qualifying sessions, with the #35 of Katsumasa Chiyo, Tsugio Matsuda and Joshua Burdon setting the 15th fastest time overall to progress to Super Pole.
2015 Bathurst 12 Hours winner Chiyo took the Nissan out on Friday evening and after completing his two hot laps will start from 20th on the grid for the twice-around-the-clock race.
The trio of Alexandre Imperatori, Oliver Jarvis and Edoardo Liberati on board the #18 car were unlucky having found traffic on their best laps, putting them 28th. The pace was encouraging however, as the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship Spa race winner Oliver Jarvis set the 10th best time in Q3.
After the chequered flag for Qualifying, Night Practice took place where the cars once again showed good speed as each driver set their mandatory two timed laps.
With strong potential for the race, the team and drivers look forward to the start at 16:30 local time.
Katsumasa Chiyo, #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “It was a pleasure to drive Super Pole for the 24 Hours of Spa. My team-mates did a great job in Qualifying to get us into the top 20. On my flying lap I didn’t push as much as I could and then we were unlucky. The result is not what we wanted but there’s still a long way to go.”
Tsugio Matsuda, #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “There was a lot of traffic during Qualifying, the session was tough but I’m happy we made it to Super Pole. We are looking forward to the race.”
Joshua Burdon, #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “I’m super proud of KCMG and my team-mates. It’s the team’s first 24 Hours of Spa, so being in Super Pole in the most competitive GT3 race in the world is an excellent performance. We are realistic with our expectations and we will try to bring home the best possible result.”
Alexandre Imperatori, #18 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “We’ve been a bit unlucky with our qualifying session. We had a better car than we expected and were definitely able to fight for the top 20. It looked like we were about to make it but unfortunately there was too much traffic on both mine and Edo’s run. Oliver really brought the car forward but there was traffic again in the last sector that cost us and we start 28th. Not ideal but it’s a long race and the starting position is not what’s going to matter in the end. We’ll have to see what the conditions are like for the race, but we’ll fight hard and try to have a clean one.”
Oliver Jarvis, #18 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “In my segment I ended up 10th and was really happy with the car. There was more to come but I had some traffic later in the session. My team-mates got really unlucky in their runs so neither of them got clear laps, otherwise we’d have comfortably been in Super Pole. But that’s racing and a lot of people on track had the same issues so now we focus on the race. It looks like it could be wet so we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and the start, but the team’s done a fantastic job so far and I hope that we can have a strong result.”
Edoardo Liberati, #18 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “We were unlucky with the traffic in Qualifying, so we start in 28th. But the car has good potential and this race is always about survival so there’s a lot of confidence.”
Paul Ip, KCMG Founder: “For our first 24 Hours of Spa, we can be very happy with our performance. The full potential wasn’t quite exploited, but the starting position is not what matters here, especially with such a long race. We are eager to get going and make sure we bring the car home.”