Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 proves potential in Dubai 24-hour race
This weekend saw JRM Racing run its Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 in the Dunlop 24-hours of Dubai, with four of the manufacturer’s ‘Champions’ from 2011 driving the car: Michael Krumm, Alex Buncombe, Franck Mailleux and Tom Kimber-Smith. Having qualifying third on a grid of 70 cars, hopes were high for an excellent result, but after being hit by another car in the early stages, the consequential damage forced the team into retirement seven-hours into the race.
The race in the UAE coincided with the unveiling of Nissan’s new GT3 car at Autosport International in Birmingham, England, on Thursday (12th January) morning. And, with Krumm qualifying the car third on the grid just a few hours after the announcement, the scene was set for an excellent start to the car’s competitive career.
Krumm was first to drive and, following the start, he slotted into a comfortable pace in the leading group of five cars. But then, on lap 10 a Lamborghini turned in on the Nissan and, with traffic all around him, the FIA GT1 World Champion had no-where to go and heavy contact was made with the GT-R’s front-left corner.
The impact led to the car pulling to the left and Krumm visiting the pits, where a wheel and then a number of steering and suspension parts were changed. Once back on track, the German was able to set a series of front-running lap and sector times although, at that point in proceedings, the team was unaware of the further damage sustained.
Next in the car was Buncombe, who was also able to post impressive times that would have enabled the car to challenge for the lead if it had not been for the previous visits to the pits. But then, with just two laps to go before the end of his run, Buncombe noticed a vibration from the front of the car and, when he came in to swap with Mailleux, it was found that a bracket that holds the front splitter and radiator had fractured and coolant had escaped – another product of the earlier incident.
Once repaired, Mailleux took to the circuit, but after a few laps the Frenchman saw the engine temperature rise and it became apparent that the loss of coolant had taken it’s toll on the head gasket. It was a blow for the team and the technicians, who had worked tirelessly leading up to the race to prepare the new GT3 GT-R for its first 24-hour outing.
Everyone at JRM was extremely upbeat about the car’s on-track performance, as the lap times proved that it was on the pace of all other GT3 cars and therefore, its potential was clear to see.
Team quotesJames Rumsey (Team Principal)“It was a real shame not to be able to complete the race but, had it not been for the impact in the early stages, I’m confident we would have done it. However, we take a lot of positives away with us, as we were able to prove that car was right on the pace and we were able to carry out a successful 24-hour test in advance of the race. Therefore, the result this weekend has not affected our development programme whatsoever and we look forward to seeing the car competing again, if not being run by us, then in the hands of our customers.”
Michael Krumm“I had a good qualifying and a good start, but then I got hit quite hard by another car on lap 10. I would have avoided contact if I could, but in the traffic I had nowhere to go. After the steering had been fixed I was able to put in some fast lap and sector times. The car was getting better and better. It now feels similar to the GT1 GT-R, but with ABS and Traction Control - which makes it a joy to drive – just like a road-going GT-R. I think the GT3 GT-R has great potential and I hope to get the chance to drive it again this season.”
Alex Buncombe“Throughout my stint the GT-R was running really well and when the guys on the pit wall told me over the radio that we were the fastest car of the race, it was a great feeling. I was also pleased that even though I was out there for 90-minutes I was never passed once – even when the splitter came loose at the end of the stint. It’s not a physical car to drive, so I think it’s going to be ideal for endurance races.”
Franck Mailleux“For sure, it’s always disappointing not to finish a race, but it was great that the GT-R was on the pace right from the start and as quick, if not quicker, than any other GT3 car out there. It’s often quite a jump coming from an LMP car to a GT car, but I found the GT-R easy to drive and very stable, so you could maintain your times lap-after-lap. So, with a bit more luck the result this weekend could have been very different.”
Tom Kimber-Smith“When I was asked to join a team that included three other sportscar racing champions, in a car that was run by the team that won the FIA GT1 World Championship, I was really excited. Things started well for us with the car proving to be quick in qualifying and while it was on the track, so it was disappointing not to actually get a run in the race. From the laps I did in practice, there’s no doubt it has great potential and I hope get the opportunity to drive it again.”