Weather, tyres hold key to Nissan B12H chances
Nissan will work on plan to combat power-crippling heat as it pursues a second victory in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
The first-for-2017 Pirelli control tyre and predicted scorching heat across the weekend have become crucial factors in race plans.
Nissan’s twin GT-R Nismo attack will see Alex Buncombe, Katsumasa Chiyo and Michael Caruso crew the #23 while Jann Mardenborough, Florian Strauss and Todd Kelly will combine in the #24 machine.
Buncombe, who missed a winning opportunity in 2015 when he remained in England for the birth of his first child, said the heat traditionally sapped power out of the GT-R.
“In Europe the car is usually very sensitive to heat. Whether that is going to hinder us much over the course of the weekend, we are yet to discover,” Buncombe told Speedcafe.com.
“Power wise with the heat, it means we are going to be a bit down on power as well.
“(and) I don’t think we’ve quite got the BoP like we had last year.”
While the GT-Rs run on Pirelli rubber in the Blancpain series, the compound and construction is said to be different than the medium and hard options that will be in play for Bathurst.
Each entry will be issued with seven sets of DHC hards, five sets of P Zero DMC mediums and seven sets of wets.
Pirelli has also made the use of tyre ‘ovens’ available after discovering weakness in the tyres if pushed hard when cold.
“Compound wise I think it’s a little bit different from what we’ve been used to in Europe,” Buncombe said.
“The Blancpain tyre is a bit harder. I think we’ve got the option of a harder tyre here and a medium compound.
“Which one is going to be a better race tyre I don’t know. The weather is going to play a big part.”
While rain is forecast at some stage during the race, Buncombe said it would help the Nissan.
“We didn’t do all that good in qualifying (last year) but if we get it in the top 10 (shootout) I think that is really important in the first couple of laps of the race,” Buncombe explained.
“It’s really important to be out of the melee.
“And when it rains in Europe the car is really, really good in the wet.
“We don’t need to change the car much, it’s generally quite a soft car.”
Mardenborough said the initial plan for the opening practice sessions is to work on accomplishing double stint runs on a set of Pirellis.
The Briton is eager to cut his maiden laps around the 6.2km mountain track after pacing the circuit on foot.
“I walked the track on Wednesday and I expected it to be mad and it was,” Mardenborough said.
“There was more elevation than I anticipated.”
“There’s 50-odd cars and there’s some big cars and looking at some of the road it is tight in places so everything is going to feel pretty close.
“But I’m massively looking forward to the rush.”
Mardenborough said the key objective is to concentrate on extracting two stints out of the tyres.
“Alex, Chiyo and Florian know what it feels like on these tyres so we should have a baseline on what the car should be feeling like.
“The plan is we have to double stint the tyres. It’s one of the main objectives.
“That’s what practice is going to be all about is a matter of how long we will push the tyres for.
“The McLaren last year was on Pirellis and it won the race and it was double-stinting and that is the objective for us.
“You can’t be single-stinting anywhere.”