The Nissan GT Academy Team RJN line-up of Alex Buncombe, Nick McMillen and Florian Strauss repeated the team’s 2013 feat, winning the Pro-Am Cup class as the Blancpain Endurance Series visited Silverstone.
Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 regular Buncombe qualified the #80 car third overall, second in class. However, it was the Pro-Am and overall pole sitter who proved to be the first major obstacle for Buncombe as he took the green flag to start the race.
“What I thought was going to happen, did happen,” said Buncombe of his fears about the race start. “I got boxed in behind the Porsche and I couldn’t get past him until Stowe. By that time I had lost a couple of spots so I had to just get my head down and look after the tyres so that I could hand over a good car to my team-mates.”
The early hold up put Buncombe back a place into fourth – losing out to a pair of Pro Cup entrants. He did, though, pick up the Pro-Am lead which held through to the end of his hour in the car before he handed over to 2013 GT Academy winner McMillen for the middle stint.
Though he drove a clean stint the Pro-Am make-up of the class worked against him, as he lost out to a Pro driver piloted Aston Martin. However, the pattern of the race fell back in the Nissan team’s favour during Strauss’ stint in the car as the 2013 German GT Academy winner kept his head during a late race safety car period, retaking the class lead soon after the restart.
“We knew we had the pace to win at Monza but it didn’t work out for us there,” said McMillen. “I tried really hard to be consistent today and to be honest didn’t go as well as I hoped but it was a great team effort and I’m delighted to be taking the winner’s trophy home with me.”
The sister GT-R came away with a tenth place among the Pro-Am ranks, claiming the final points on offer in the category.
Their race weekend got off to a less auspicious start, Katsumasa Chiyo one of a number drivers who lost out when a red flag in the final part of qualifying prevented a final flying lap on new tyres.
In his race opening stint Chiyo-san made amends for the morning’s unfortunate result, moving up to 12th before passing the car over to Russian GT Academy winner Stanislav Aksenov who in turn made way for the Miguel Faisca, European GT Academy winner.
Despite a spin early in his stint the Portuguese held on to tenth place in the class through to the end of the three hour race.