KC Motorgroup Ltd. (KCMG) gets its 2019 season underway this weekend with the Dubai 24 Hour (11-12 January), in which it will field a pair of Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 cars and a Honda Civic Type R TCR (FK7), as the Hong Kong squad aim for overall and class victories.
The United Arab Emirates endurance race marks the first event of a busy year for KCMG, with the team set to compete in the Intercontinental GT Challenge and VLN rounds, as well as Super Formula, TCR Japan and Super Taikyu.
Heading to the Dubai Autodrome are two talented GT line-ups, with Alexander Imperatori, Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Liberati and Philipp Wlazik set to drive the #23 Nissan, whereas Katsumasa Chiyo, Tsugio Matsuda, Joshua Burdon, Shaun Thong and Andrea Gagliardini will pilot the #35 car.
Imperatori is no stranger to KCMG, having raced for the team during the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship, in which he achieved two LMP2 victories. Fellow Pro driver Jarvis has a wealth of experience in endurance racing and boasts an impressive racing CV, with victories in single-seaters, GT, DTM and prototype machinery.
Italian ace Liberati joined KCMG last season for the Blancpain GT Series Asia, scoring three podiums on board the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, with amateur Wlazik returning to the twice-around-the-clock event after finishing top-five in class in 2017.
In the sister #35 machine, 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series champion Chiyo rejoins KCMG having driven for the team at the 2018 Suzuka 10 Hours. He is joined by multiple Super GT and Formula Nippon champion Matsuda, whose 20 years’ experience will be crucial in the fight for victory this weekend.
Thong returns to the race having finished as GT4 runner-up at the event last year, with 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 vice champion Burdon and seasoned amateur Gagliardini sure to bolster KCMG’s podium chances.
In TCR, team owner Paul Ip, 2016 TCR Asia champion Andy Yan, Jim Ka To, Kenneth Ma and Henry Lee Jr. will be in action on board the #122 Honda Civic Type R TCR, as they look to challenge for class victory at the gruelling 24-hour event.
Oliver Jarvis, #23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “The Dubai 24 Hour is such a great race and an amazing way to start my 2019 season. The event has gone from strength to strength over the years and this time it looks like the strongest grid yet. We’ve got an impressive line-up and if we manage to stay out of trouble, we have a very good opportunity for a strong result. This will be the first time that we all share the car together, but I am confident of gelling quickly and I know we have a great team behind us, having raced for KCMG twice before. For now I am looking forward to getting the first laps under my belt, as it's a track I've never driven before, but having watched on-board videos it's clearly a very technically demanding track.”
Tsugio Matsuda, #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3: “I am looking forward to working with KCMG for the Dubai 24 Hour. It is great to be back with the team after a promising season with the Nissan GT-R last year. This is a brand new challenge and my objective is to help the squad produce positive results and ultimately be victorious in Dubai.”
Andy Yan, #122 Honda Civic Type R TCR: “It is great to be back with the team for the 24H Dubai, so soon after our strong performance in the FIA GT Nations Cup together last month. The competition in the TCR class is tough, but our team is capable of fighting at the front and victory is our goal. Thank you to Paul Ip and everyone at KCMG for giving me this opportunity.”
Paul Ip, Team Owner of KCMG: “We are keen to get our 2019 season off to a strong start this weekend in Dubai. This race has continued to grow over the years, and we’ll have to use all of our knowledge and experience of endurance racing if we’re to win. It’s fantastic to see our team represented in both GT and TCR with talented line-ups, the race is very demanding but we’re confident in our abilities. I am also looking forward to driving the Type R and will give my all to help the team achieve the best possible result.”
The three KCMG entries will be in action for practice and qualifying on Thursday, before the all-important Dubai 24 Hour gets underway at 15:00 (local time).