After one of the most gruelling ‘Total 24 Hours of Spa’ in many years, the RJN Motorsport Nissan 370Z of Jordan Tresson, Alex Buncombe and Chris Ward crossed the line as the GT4 race winner! This marks the first international victory for a GT Academy winner and indeed for the production class Nissan 370Z.
The race got off to a good start yesterday afternoon with RJN regular Alex Buncombe at the wheel of the 370Z. Qualifying was also Alex’s job this weekend and he did it perfectly, sticking the Nissan on pole position in the GT4 class, ahead of stiff competition from Lotus, BMW and Aston Martin.
The Nissan 370Z held the lead for the first three hours of the race but the Lotus took the lead when a damper problem required a visit to the pits. A couple of hours later a rear puncture further delayed the Nissan but the fight-back was well and truly on.
After a long night, the Nissan surfaced from some heavy rain in second place and then at around 0800hrs the lead Lotus retired out on the track. The Nissan breezed into the lead and never looked back, taking a comfortable win after 24 hours of hard racing.
“The RJN guys blew me away today,” commented Darren Cox, Nissan Europe’s Chief Marketing Manager (Crossover and Sports Cars). “Just when you think it’s all over they dig even deeper, fix the car and send it out again. Their ‘never say die’ attitude is an example to us all and an incredible thing to witness.”
“Al Buncombe did an amazing job,” he continued. “Especially during the night when he was out on slicks in the damp conditions. He took huge chunks out of the Lotus’ lead during that run. He is a prime example of a professional driver and a great role model for Jordan as he continues his racing education. Jordan himself has been very mature and calm throughout the race. He is a good team player and he is learning his lessons well. This is a great moment for GT Academy: second place at Le Mans and now a win at Spa shows we are getting it right.”
Bob Neville, the RJN Motorsport team boss and the man who has guided the GT Academy graduates since 2008 was naturally delighted with the result.
“It has been a long journey to get to this victory,” he said. “This is the first major 24 hour race win for RJN and for the Nissan 370Z. This proves that it’s not just the fastest GT4 car in Europe but it is also strong enough for a car-breaking endurance race like this. This was a tough race and many of the big teams and drivers made mistakes so to be knocking on the door of the overall top 20 at the end, despite our own problems, is a good feeling.”
The final position for the Nissan 370Z was 22nd overall from a field of over 60 cars. The 2011 Total 24 Hours of Spa will be remembered as the race where the Nissan 370Z mixed it with the big guns and came out at the top of the class.
Congratulations to Jordan and the RJN team! Here’s a few more photos of the event by Kevin of RedSquareImages.