KC Motorgroup Ltd. (KCMG) successfully completed its 24 Hours of Spa debut with both Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 cars, scoring 16th and 25th in the Pro class.
Beginning the race week with the traditional parade from the circuit to Spa city centre for the drivers’ autograph session, as well as launching its new Formula 4 car for the FIA Motorsport Games, KCMG’s two Nissans got on track for free practice.
Although traffic prevented the #18 machine from progressing into Super Pole, the #35 made it inside the top 20 after the four qualifying sessions.
Progressing through the field was FIA World Endurance Championship race winner Oliver Jarvis following a safety car start and early wet running. Further positions were gained when the #18 Nissan was handed over to 2016 GT Asia champion Edoardo Liberati, but he was forced to pit due to an issue with the rear lights.
With Nürburgring 24 Hours podium finisher Alexandre Imperatori behind the wheel, KCMG reached the top 10 overall approaching the six-hour mark but contact and a puncture after Jarvis returned to the car dropped them back down the order. “We overcame some of the craziest conditions I have ever driven and got both cars to the finish,” explained Imperatori. “That’s something to be proud of so a great effort by the whole KCMG team. Thanks to my team-mates for a flawless job. We were strong in the dry although struggled for grip in some of the wet parts of the race, but I feel good for Nissan’s home event at Suzuka.”
As the night fell, the rain returned to the point where the race was suspended shortly beyond the half-way mark, with green flag racing not resuming until five hours remained.
Despite further contact after being hit in the slippery conditions, Jarvis continued to progress, with Imperatori bringing the car across the line 16th in the Pro class.
2015 Bathurst 12 Hour winner Katsumasa Chiyo on board the #35 car was unfortunate in the opening stages as an oil slick caused another competitor to hit him, damaging his exhaust system and forcing him into the pits. Having emerged seven laps behind the leader, the remainder of the race would be a recovery drive.
Strong stints by double Super Formula and Formula Nippon champion Tsugio Matsuda and Joshua Burdon to not only survive the treacherous conditions, but also rise through the order with front-running pace, brought them up to 25th in class despite numerous safety car periods towards the end of the race.
The next stop on the Intercontinental GT Challenge calendar for KCMG is Nissan’s home event at the Suzuka 10 Hours on 23-25 August.