As part of the “Nismo Global Driver Exchange Program” initiative, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Nissan) and Nissan Motorsports International Co., Ltd. (Nismo) will participate in the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race, the “Sepang 12 Hours”, at Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia (August 28 – September 1). The exchange program is an initiative that has been launched to provide Nissan/Nismo’s roster of racing drivers worldwide the opportunity to compete in races held in different parts of the world.
Nismo will enter the race as the “Nismo Athlete Global Team” (Team representative: Toshikazu Tanaka, Director and Corporate Vice President of Nismo), with the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 as its entry. This will be the inaugural race for the newly formed team. The three drivers are: Katsumasa Chiyo, a member of the Nissan Driver Development Program (NDDP) and driver in SUPER GT’s GT300 class; Wolfgang Reip (Belgium), a GT Academy Europe 2012 graduate; and Mark Shulzhitskiy (Russia), another GT Academy Russia 2012 graduate. The Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 – a machine designed for endurance racing with such features as large fog lights – has been newly assembled for this race, and has already been shipped to Malaysia from Nismo’s headquarters in the Tsurumi district of Yokohama. At Sepang circuit, the car will be made ready for the official events that are scheduled on August 28 (Wednesday), and a practice session and a nighttime practice session are planned for August 29 (Thursday). Official qualifying will be held on August 30 (Friday). The 12-hour main race is set to begin at 12 midnight on September 1 (Sunday), with the goal set to be reached at 12 noon on the same day.
Participating driver Katsumasa Chiyo’s comments:
“I hear that the ‘Sepang 12 Hours’ is a race where distinguished automakers and drivers from around the world come to fight a fierce battle. For this reason, I believe that this race will be a great opportunity for us to demonstrate the strength of the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. Also, this race will actually be my first experience competing in an international race. I am looking forward to learning as much as I can, and am determined to prove that I have the capacity to compete at a world-class level. Although the “Nismo Athlete Global Team” is newly formed, everyone in the team is reliable and trustworthy, and I feel very much at ease. Because I’m already familiar with the track at Sepang due to having competed there in SUPER GT, I have no worries whatsoever about the course. This will be a marathon race lasting twelve hours, so I am hoping to race to the checkered flag in as sure and reliable a way as possible. We, as the “Nismo Athlete Global Team” along with Wolfie and Mark, will put in our best effort to claim victory in this race.”
Participating driver Wolfgang Reip’s comments:
“Sepang looks like a challenging and flowing track that should really suit the GT-R Nismo GT3. It will be very interesting to drive with Chiyo-san as he knows the track and the car very well. I am also very excited to race for the new Nismo Athlete Global Team, as they are truly passionate and professional – so it will be a great learning experience for both myself and Mark. I know it can get very hot at Sepang so I hope we will have the air conditioning that the guys who did the SUPER GT test told us about! It is an honor to race in Asia for Nissan and I thank them very much for this opportunity. As always I will push hard and continue to learn with every lap.”
Participating driver Mark Shulzhitskiy’s comments:
“Sepang looks great on television. It looks like a very interesting track with lots of overtaking opportunities. I have heard that Chiyo-san is young and fast so it will be good for Wolfie and me to race with him. We drive the same car but in different championships so it will be very interesting to compare notes. The opportunity to drive for a Nismo team is incredible and as I haven’t raced for a month now I am really excited to be getting back in a racing car. I’m sure the race will be long, hot and exhausting but I’m also sure that I will enjoy every minute of it.”
Team representative Toshikazu Tanaka’s comments:
“This is the first race for the Nismo Athlete Global Team, and the first time Nismo has participated in an international race overseas since the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans race. This time, we are participating with the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, the sole GT3-spec vehicle from any Japanese manufacturer. Intense battles are expected as we go up against the best GT3 machinery from Western makes, but we want to fight to the bitter end as worthy challengers. We’re hoping for a memorable event in Malaysia, one that’s exciting and entertaining. I hope you’ll see our young drivers grow as the team also develops.”
Source : Nissan