A factory-backed Nissan team stood atop the Bathurst podium for the first time since that pack of arseholes win back in 1992. Katsumasa Chiyo drove the #35 GTR Nismo GT3 to victory with a perfectly timed charge for the lead in a two-lap sprint for the chequered flag.
That final sprint came courtesy of the 20th Safety Car period of the race which, thankfully, was over in time to see the race decided under green flag conditions. At the start of the second last lap the Nissan was in third place, by Hell Corner Chiyo had moved into P2 and by Griffins Bend he had the lead. Never challenged he crossed the line with a relatively comfortable gap back to the chaos going on behind him.
You can read more detailed coverage of the race elsewhere, all we’ll add to our thoughts on the race is that we would have loved to have seen the #15 Phoenix Audi R8 win. In the opening hour or so Markus Winkelhock was a class above the rest of the field. It was beautiful to watch as the gap back to second visibly widened with each lap.
At the end, in that dramatic run from Forrest Elbow to the flag, the #15 car went from almost taking second place, to being relegated to fourth to crossing the line in P2 in a move that we’re still yet to see on video (Channel 7 we’ll get to you later).
Overall, though, the Bathurst 12 Hour is a truly great race. Why would you watch six hours of supertaxis when you can watch 12 hours of bona fide supercars! Watching the GT cars fly across the top of the mountain is perhaps one of the finest motor racing spectator experiences on offer in Australia. And seven different brands in the top seven says all you need to know about GT racing and is part of what makes it so enjoyable to watch.
Each brand has its own unique sound. Those Marc Racing V8s are a pretty cool concept, but they sound like every other V8 Supercar in that god forsaken series. In the GT category there’s V12s, V10, V8s, V6s and flat-sixes. The Bentleys and Mercedes have a gutteral growl, the Audis shriek, the 458s shriek a bit more. Each has its own character as the drivers work through the gears. The Nissan less clinical than you might think. The Porsche is just different to everything else out there.
It’s believeable. Seeing racecars genuinely based on their roadgoing counterparts respects the paying punter much more than the direction V8SC has taken. I don’t like being treated like a fool, thankfully with GT racing that is not the case.
Slowly, but surely, the crowds are catching on too. It was a record crowd for the 12 Hour this year and while still a long way off the crowds for the 1000km race the gap is closing. Of course, the VB and Winnie blue factor is a bit lower as well.
If you love motorsport and haven’t yet made it to the Bathurst 12 Hour, give yourself a kick up the arse and start planning for 2016!
2015 Bathurst 12 Hour top 7
- #35 Nissan GTR Nismo GT3 – 269 laps
- #15 Audi R8 LMS Ultra – 269 laps
- #97 Aston Martin V12 Vantage – 269 laps
- #10 Bentley Continental GT3 – 269 laps
- #36 Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3 – 269 laps
- #49 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 – 268 laps
- #32 Lamboghini Gallardo GT3 – 268 laps
UPDATE: Nissan’s video wrap and press release have been added below.
Nissan Wins 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour As GT-R Conquers Mount Panorama Once Again
BATHURST, Australia (8 February 2015) – The Nissan GT-R has taken another significant victory at Mount Panorama after scoring a dramatic victory in the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour.
After a race full of drama, crashes and Safety Cars, Japanese star Katsumasa Chiyo passed two cars on the penultimate lap to secure a remarkable win for the NISMO Athlete Global Team.
The victory for Chiyo and GT Academy winners Wolfgang Reip and Florian Strauss is the first time that the Nissan GT-R has won at Mount Panorama since the GT-R took back-to-back Bathurst 1000 wins in 1991 and 1992.
The crowd at the top of the Mount Panorama roared as Chiyo put the Nissan into the lead, a fairytale story after the car was damaged in a qualifying crash on Saturday, with repairs to the #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 only completed at 4:30am local time on Sunday morning.
Strauss was especially ecstatic to take victory, as he was a late recruit to the event when Alex Buncombe was unable to attend the event due to the birth of his first child. Strauss has only been a racing driver for 18 months following his win in GT Academy in 2013.
“It is just unbelievable because I couldn’t imagine that end of the race, with a strong Audi and Bentley and we are still in the amateur class,” said Chiyo.
“The car is very good, it is very strong on the straight. I tried to imagine, it was just amazing, we couldn’t know what would happen in this race, but we just tried our best in the moment and then I had a chance in the final restart. It was just awesome. The car was amazing, and so was the team.”
“Yes it was very stressful (watching the final laps), I couldn’t keep calm,” said Reip.
“It is incredible, our first win for the last two years we have been racing, so really a lot of emotions. I took the start this morning, at the beginning of the stint I was following the Audi and then I started to save the car because we knew we had to do it to reach (the window). It was pretty long, a two hour forty minute stint and then Chiyo did a three hour stint, so it was quite long, but very exciting.
“My second stint went pretty well, there were a lot of safety cars but I could reach the pit in time. It was very stressful as we had a strategy and then with the Safety Cars we did not know what would happen – we didn’t really expect any more to win, but the last ten minutes was incredible. The car was very good here, it is definitely a track that suits us. It was a good race.”
“It is just awesome, still unbelievable,” said Strauss.
“I am very lucky that we have won, no one can say what would you have achieved with Alex, we couldn’t have achieved a better result. The team did an amazing job all weekend, Chiyo put the car in first place, the team put all the effort in to get the car ready in the morning.
“The car gave me a lot of confidence, I got up to speed quite well I guess, not too far away from my team mates. My stint was amazing, a bit long and a lot of Safety Cars. Disappointingly, half way from the end of the race we were in third place, but Chiyo put the hammer down at the end and we achieved a good result, and it’s awesome for Nissan.”
Darren Cox – Global Head of Marketing, Sales and Brand, NISMO:
“This is a truly historic result for Nissan,” said Cox.
“It is another great chapter in the history of NISMO and the legendary GT-R. I am proud of the teamwork from a global group of committed Nissan and NISMO racers in the car, garage and behind the scenes keeping the fans up to date. The news will reverberate from Australia to Japan and into Europe especially Belgium, Germany and the UK.”
Richard Emery – Managing Director and CEO, Nissan Motor Co Australia:
“It was a crazy day, it was an amazing outcome,” said Emery.
“The team worked hard to get the car right for today, and they’ve got the fruits of their hard work.
“This race is part of Nissan’s global program, and it is important for Australia to be part of that. You’ve got unique and innovative programs with the way the drivers come through the GT Academy system, and GT-R has always been known for its innovation, and in a few months time, we’ll be going to Le Mans with an innovative car.
“It’s really great that our program is part of the global effort.”