Formula One racer Max Chilton and NISMO regular Alex Buncombe have become the latest drivers to be confirmed for Nissan’s FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) assault.
23 year old Chilton will join Harry Tincknell, Jann Mardenborough, Michael Krumm, Marc Gene and Olivier Pla for the opening round of the season at Silverstone on April 12, while Buncombe will contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the team’s third car, the front-engined Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, with Tsugio Matsuda and Lucas Ordonez.
Having spent two years in the Formula One ranks with Marussia, Chilton joins the programme with plenty of top-level racing experience. His smooth, consistent driving style was rewarded in 2013 when he became the first rookie to finish every race of the season, making him an ideal asset for Nissan’s endurance racing programme.
However, this won’t be the first time that the Chilton has competed in LMP1 machinery. In 2007 Chilton, then a 16-year-old British F3 prospect, joined his brother Tom for the Silverstone 1000km in a Zytek 07S, finishing sixth overall.
“I’m honoured to have been asked to join a manufacturer as prestigious as Nissan in a championship that is growing year on year,” said Chilton. “Le Mans has always had an amazing following and to be racing there as a works driver is a dream come true.
“My aim has always been to race at the highest level and the technology that has gone into the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO is as impressive as a Formula One car. Having met with the team and seen first-hand the dedication and desire to win that exists within this project I can’t wait to get on track.”
Buncombe, meanwhile, is no stranger to Nissan’s motorsport initiative. The 33 year old has been competing in Nissan machinery since 2007 and has amassed several wins including GT4 honours in the 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series. Since 2008 Buncombe has also served as a mentor for the GT Academy programme, which has produced two of the nine drivers that will campaign the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO in 2015.
“This is a genuine dream come true for me,” said Buncombe. “I was shocked when I got the call and I haven’t been able to wipe the grin off my face ever since. It’s very rewarding being the mentor of the GT Academy winners, especially when I see how much the likes of Lucas [Ordonez] and Jann [Mardenborough] have gone on to achieve.
“Now I’m going to race at Le Mans with them in the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO. I already know a fair amount about the car and I can’t wait to have a go. It’s a radical design and, as with all new cars it will take some developing and fine-tuning, but it’s incredibly exciting and I’m so happy to be on the team.”
Darren Cox, Global Head of Brand, Marketing and Sales at NISMO, added: “It’s good to have Alex and Max on the team. They have come to us from different routes. Alex has driven every current Nissan racing car we have and – when you consider that I started working with him when he was racing a 350Z in GT4 – that’s some journey.
“Max is best known for his F1 exploits, although he has competed in LM P1 before, back in 2007 when he was only 16. The addition of these two drivers shows that Nissan has cast its net wide in looking for the best driver line up for LM P1. We now have drivers who raced last year in F1, LM P2, GP3, GT3, V8s, GT500 and of course on PlayStation 3 on Gran Turismo 6!”
The 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship begins with the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 12. The season opening Prologue test at Paul Ricard will take place on March 27-28.
Independent testing for the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO will continue to take place at Sebring International Raceway this week.