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WASHOUT AT SPA
A fast car, fast drivers and some incredible work in the pits wasn’t enough to produce a result in the 2012 Total 24 Hours of Spa for Nissan. After moving up from 41st to 20th place in just two hours, the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 ultimately retired with an electrical problem.
Alex Buncombe made a great getaway at the start of the race and began the attack to elevate the GT-R through the rankings. He made his way to 33rd place before pitting to hand over to Jann Mardenborough.
“I had a cautious opening stint as our instructions from Bob (Neville) were to take it easy,” said Al. “There was a lot of dicing so we stayed out of that and made steady progress and started to settle in for a long race. The car felt great throughout my run and the pit stop to hand over to Jann went like clockwork. Our reliability has been good this year so to stop this early is very disappointing.”
Considering Jann Mardenborough has never raced at Spa before his stint was incredible to watch as he moved all the way up to 20th place before he came in.
“I think only one car got past me,” he said. “I overtook 16 cars during my stint so it was great fun out there. Everyone was driving well so we all had a good fair fight. The car felt great, really well balanced and easy to race. For my first race at Spa I loved it. It was just too short.”
When Jann pitted to hand over to Chris Ward he had just moved up to 20th position and the future was looking very bright. Just as he stopped the sky burst again at Spa so the team made a quick call to switch the car to wet weather tyres. Unfortunately the car suddenly developed an electrical problem so the hunt was off temporarily.
“We pulled the car into the garage to have a good look for the problem,” explained team boss, Bob Neville. “We couldn’t trace the fault at first but eventually got the car going again. Chris (Ward) went out and did two installation laps, which were competitive so we thought we were going again. Unfortunately he then stopped at Raidillon and in the torrential rain there is little he could have done to try to get moving. The mechanics all went up to try to help him in some way but ultimately it was game over. It’s a real shame as we could have had a great result here.
"Alex and Jann moved up 20 places in two stints,” said Darren Cox, General Manager of Nissan in Europe. “Our lap times were up there with the cars running in the top five throughout the first two hours of the race. The car is brilliant in the rain and, as the mechanics found out when they went out to try to help Chris fix the car, there was a lot of rain! I’m confident that without the electrical problem we would have been on the podium at the end of this race.”
Jann, Alex and the team are now fully focused on attacking the next two rounds of the British GT Championship, which take place at Snetterton next weekend.