Nissan will go on the defensive at Bathurst

TITLE DEFENCE: Members of the Nissan team celebrate victory in this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour. The team will return to Mount Panorama next February and attempt to defend their crown. 020815zmoly12MOTOR SPORT

WHEN Japanese driver Katsuma Chiyo charged from third to first on the penultimate lap of this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour before going on to claim the chequered flag, it marked an important moment for Nissan.

Not only did it end a 22-year wait for the manufacturer to once again earn victory at Mount Panorama, but it kick-started a season which saw the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 go on to post wins on three more continents

The Bathurst 12 Hour success and those wins which followed in the Blancpain GT Endurance Series in Europe, Pirelli World Challenge in the United States and GT300 Super GT Championship in Japan were cherish by Nissan.

Therefore it came as little surprise late last week when Nissan announced it would return to Bathurst next February in an attempt to defend their 12 Hour crown.

The car will carry #1 instead of the traditional number 23 of Nissan and Nismo globally, but given it is the number of the defending champion, the alteration is a welcomed one.

“It’s great to confirm that we will return to Mount Panorama next February to defend our Bathurst 12 Hour victory,” Richard Emery, managing director and CEO of Nissan Australia said.

“This year’s spectacular win has been celebrated by Nissan and Nismo globally as a truly historic moment in our long and proud motor sport history. This included the winning car being honoured and celebrated at last weekend’s Nismo Festival at Fuji Speedway in Japan.”

This year’s Bathurst 12 Hour win marked Nissan’s first victory at the Mount since Mark Skaife and Jim Richards took out the 1992 edition of the Great Race.

In a race that featured a record 20 safety cars, Wolfgang Reip and Florian Strauss watched on from the team garage as Chiyo got the job done in the Nismo GT-R.

“It was really stressful, I couldn’t keep calm really. It’s incredible, it’s our first win for the last two years we’ve been racing,” Reip said.

“With all the strategy and safety cars, we really didn’t know what would happen. We didn’t expect to win, but the last seven minutes were incredible.”

Just as Nissan claimed back-to-back Bathurst 1000 wins in 1991-92 with a GT-R, Emery hopes they can successfully defend their Bathurst 12 Hour crown.

The driver line-up is yet to be confirmed, but with a talented group of international drivers as well as V8 Supercars stars like Rick Kelly to draw from, it will no doubt be imposing.

The car will also be an improvement on the one which nudged out the Phoenix Racing Audi R8 and Craft Bamboo Racing Aston Martin this year.

“[This year] was the first Bathurst win for the legendary Nissan GT-R since the back-to-back Bathurst 1000 wins in 1991 and 1992,” Emery said.

“While we respect the level of competition, it will naturally be our aim to emulate the feats of that era by getting another set of back-to-back wins.

“We have worked closely with Nismo on bringing the strongest possible effort to Bathurst in 2016.

“We will enter the 2016 race with a brand new 2015-specification Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, built by Nismo in Japan specifically for the Bathurst 12 Hour and Nissan Motor Co. Australia. The car will remain here in Australia permanently, giving us our very own version of what was arguably the best GT3 car in the world in 2015, with two championship victories and race wins on four continents.”

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