Nissan Returns Down Under with GT-R Godzilla
Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 unveiled in pit lane at Mount Panorama ahead of this weekend's 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour race
Australian driver Rick Kelly shows Alex Buncombe, Wolfgang Reip and Katsumasa Chiyo around the spectacular Bathurst circuit
BATHURST, Australia - The NISMO Athlete Global Team has arrived at Mount Panorama - and in doing so, has officially brought "Godzilla" back to Bathurst.
The last time a factory-entered Nissan GT-R raced at Bathurst was in 1992, when Jim Richards and Mark Skaife earned their second-consecutive Bathurst 1000 victory for Nissan.
This weekend at the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour, Nissan will aim to repeat that success with a line-up of four drivers from across the globe.
The team's Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, as well as drivers Rick Kelly (Australia), Alex Buncombe (England), Wolfgang Reip (Belgium) and Katsumasa Chiyo (Japan), were unveiled in pit lane at the Mount Panorama circuit today.
Kelly, a two-time Bathurst 1000 winner, comes into his first-ever 12 Hour event fresh from a GT-R NISMO GT3 test at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia last month. With the valuable testing miles under his belt, coupled with his immense Bathurst experience, Kelly is looking forward to his GT sportscar debut.
International drivers Buncombe, Reip and Chiyo are more familiar with the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 but are each making their Bathurst debut. The trio are already in awe of the 6.213km circuit after walking Mount Panorama with Kelly upon arrival. Along with Kelly, they are excited at the thought of driving the GT-R around the mountain in the first practice tomorrow (Friday) morning.
The Bathurst 12 Hour is Australia's premier GT sports car endurance race, with the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 set to compete against 18 other GT3-specification cars in the outright class. Over 40 cars will race in the 'once around the clock' event beginning Sunday morning.
Rick Kelly (Australia), NISMO Athlete Global Team, #32 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 Comments on event: "Even just standing here in pit lane the car looks incredible," said Rick Kelly.
"I had my first drive of it at Sepang a little over a week ago and it's quite an incredible car.
"For me it's an iconic weekend. It's the first time a GT-R in this sort of form has been here in 22 years since Jim Richards (and Mark Skaife) won the Bathurst 1000 in the GT-R in that famous race back in 1992.
"I am treating this race as seriously as I possibly can. I am putting my head down and backside up to try and get a result because it's obviously very different racing to what I'm used to (in V8 Supercars).
"The NISMO factory operation is really impressive. For me it has been a real eye opener to see how they go about their motorsport and you can see that in how well the car is presented. It's really impressive and for me this is a really big learning experience as well.
"I'm not quite sure exactly what to expect. I don't know the competition that well but there are a lot of really quick cars up and down pit lane and the GT-R is no exception to that. If we do a really good job on the weekend and stay out of trouble then we should be in for a really good shot to bring the GT-R home on top.
"I think the Nissan team has got a really good balance of drivers who have got a lot of experience in the GT-R NISMO GT3 and then myself having a lot of experience of this track. So we can really help each other out throughout the weekend and with the collective car and track knowledge that we have got, hopefully we can turn that into a really good result."