Nissan unclear on Bathurst strategy until the end
Nissan’s stunning rise to power in GT3 racing was delivered on the back of a fluid strategy that was not set in stone until the final hour.
The NISMO GT-R diced at the front of the field in a stop-start Bathurst 12 Hour with its chances growing in stature inside the final two hours when Wolfgang Reip took charge.
The Belgian driver held a 9.1s lead before pitting with 1:43min remaining when he handed the #35 GT-R over to Florian Strauss.
German racer Strauss was plucked from a holiday in Asia to be recruited as a last minute inclusion in the squad when Alex Buncombe had to stand down for the birth of his baby in Britain.
Nissan had been keen to leave Strauss in until the end, hoping stoppages would help the strategy.
“During my final stint we didn’t know what strategy to adopt with all the safety cars that happened,” Reip told Speedcafe.com
“I could only drive a maximum of 1:50min because I did a big stint in the morning so we had to make a decision.
“So the team took me to the limit of my driving time.
“And then we put Florian in the car to go to the end of the race hoping for Safety Cars.”
“But they didn’t come when we wanted them to so we decided to put Chiyo-san (Katsumasa) in the car for the last hour.
“Then with the Safety Cars we closed the gap and Chiyo-san did a great job chasing the Bentley and the Audi.”
Chiyo’s credentials received a huge boost by crafting a drive that saw him charge past Belgium’s GT superstar Laurens Vanthoor (Phoenix Audi) and then Matt Bell’s factory M-Sport Bentley in the final minutes of the marathon.