After Alexandre Imperatori and Edoardo Liberati demonstrated good pace during the practice sessions, Mount Panorama debutant Joao Paulo de Oliveira immediately showed that he had acclimatised quickly to the challenging 6.213 km venue during qualifying.
The Brazilian, who knows the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 well from KCMG’s Nürburgring 24 Hours campaign in 2019 and his maiden IGTC outing at last season’s finale, was unfazed by the intense heat and set the seventh best time in Q2 to progress into the Top 10 Shootout, having briefly been the pacesetter during the first part of qualifying.
The Super GT veteran was fastest following his Shootout run, with his time of 2:03.940 ultimately securing him a second row start for the 12-hour race.
Unfortunately the #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Katsumasa Chiyo, Tsugio Matsuda and Josh Burdon had to be withdrawn from the weekend after sustaining significant damage during an incident in practice.
Joao Paulo de Oliveira, #18 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “We extracted the most out of the car in qualifying, so I’m happy with that. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of factors that could come into play, but we feel prepared. I’m looking forward to my first Bathurst 12 Hour.”
Alexandre Imperatori, #18 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “We’ve had a good day with a strong qualifying result. It doesn’t mean too much for tomorrow although it’s brilliant to be starting at the sharp end of the grid. But there’s no points for qualifying, the race is where it counts and we know we have a long, tough one ahead of us in challenging conditions.”
Edoardo Liberati, #18 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “We’ve had a great start to the weekend so far. From practice to qualifying, we have shown strong pace. The second row is a great spot to be starting from even though the race is long and strategy will be key.”
Josh Burdon, #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “A great job by everyone at KCMG with the #18 car starting fourth. It was a mega effort and it looks like a strong race package. For myself, I feel disappointed. My sincerest apologies to the team who have worked so hard in preparation for this event. Everything was fine when I was sitting at the top of the times in FP1 when I unexpectedly lost the car going up the mountain and hit the wall. It was unusual, we can’t explain exactly what happened and it’s being investigated.”
Tsugio Matsuda, #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “It’s a shame that we cannot race due to this incident in practice, but moments like this can help us grow as a team and we have learned something for the future. My thanks to the team for their efforts.”
Paul Ip, KCMG founder: “It’s been a great start to the Bathurst weekend for us with one of our best IGTC qualifying performances. For Joao Paulo to come here as a Mount Panorama rookie and put it on the second row is just incredible. Now we must focus on the race. Keeping out of trouble will be key but rain is forecast for the start which could make things interesting. It’s a shame that both cars won’t be making the start, but these things happen in racing sometimes.”
Source. KCMG/Photo. Frits van Eldik