Both KC Motorgroup Ltd. (KCMG) Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 cars showed promising pace in the Dubai 24 Hour and would have been in podium contention, were it not for a number of unfortunate issues.
“From the start we knew that Dubai 24H would be a tough and steep learning curve,” said team manager Ian Geekie. “But everyone on the team responded brilliantly to the challenge and we made a lot of progress with the cars. We had good pace and strategy in the race and were on target for a solid result so, despite the disappointment of the late retirement, we can take a lot of positives from the experience which gives the team a really solid base to build on. Once again a massive thank you to everyone involved for all the hard work.”
After a strong qualifying performance by Joshua Burdon, the #35 Nissan of Katsumasa Chiyo, Tsugio Matsuda, Burdon, Shaun Thong and Andrea Gagliardini lined up 14th on the grid, with Matsuda taking the wheel for the start.
Despite dropping back initially, the team quickly mounted a comeback and were back inside the top-10 at quarter distance. During the night the squad continued to make up places with Chiyo and Thong in the cockpit, with the latter handing the car over to Burdon in sixth place.
However, a mechanical issue saw them drop down the order with less than two hours remaining, with the crew unable to fix the problem before the chequered flag.
The #23 Nissan started from 15th on the grid, with Alexandre Imperatori taking the wheel for his maiden Dubai 24H attempt. Following an excellent pit stop by KCMG during a Code 60 caution period, the squad rose to second after the first hour.
The team then had to make three separate pit stops and dropped down the order, with drivers Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Liberati, Philipp Wlazik and Imperatori focusing on battling back into contention. Jarvis took the wheel and the squad returned to the top-10 after seven hours of running.
Imperatori and Liberati showed strong pace during their stints, but the team encountered technical issues with Jarvis on board just before the 12-hour mark and despite finding a fix, were forced to retire with mechanical damage after contact.
Alexandre Imperatori, #23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “All in all it’s been a tough race for us and we were always trying to come back from various issues only for the next one to drop us back again. The pace was encouraging in the race but we have certainly highlighted many areas that need improvement, which was ultimately the goal of the Dubai 24 Hour. It’s a shame we couldn’t get the cars to the finish but we can now prepare much better for our first Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign, starting at Bathurst in only three weeks time. Thanks to the whole team for the efforts this week, which I’m sure will pay off in the future.”