Former F1 racer Max Chilton and Nissan regular Alex Buncombe have completed Nissan's squad of nine drivers for the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO. This news was announced ahead of the Geneva Motor Show where Nissan's LM P1 car will appear for the first time in Europe.
Max Chilton joins Nissan after two seasons in Formula One, where he became the rookie with the ‘safest pair of hands' demonstrated when he finished every single one of the races in his debut season in 2013. Fast and mistake-free is the order of the day in LM P1 racing so the British racer will be an asset to Nissan's pioneering new team.
"I'm honoured to have been asked to join a manufacturer as prestigious as Nissan in a championship that is growing year on year," said Chilton. "Le Mans has always had an amazing following and to be racing there as a works driver is a dream come true. My aim has always been to race at the highest level and the technology that has gone into the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO is as impressive as a Formula 1 car. Having met with the team and seen first-hand the dedication and desire to win that exists within this project I can't wait to get on track."
Fans of motorsport videos on YouTube will need no introduction to the racing skills of Alex Buncombe. He has become a star via his onboard camera videos, such as the one from Monza that showed him overtaking 18 cars on the opening lap of a GT race last year, which over half a million people have watched. He is less known for his work as the mentor to all of Nissan's GT Academy winners since the programme began in 2008. Now he can't wait to get his GoPro in the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.
"This is a genuine dream come true for me," said Buncombe. "I was shocked when I got the call and I haven't been able to wipe the grin off my face ever since. It's very rewarding being the mentor of the GT Academy winners, especially when I see how much the likes of Lucas (Ordonez) and Jann (Mardenborough) have gone on to achieve. Now I'm going to race at Le Mans with them in the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO. I already know a fair amount about the car and I can't wait to have a go. It's a radical design and, as with all new cars it will take some developing and fine-tuning, but it's incredibly exciting and I'm so happy to be on the team."
"It's good to have Alex and Max on the team," said Darren Cox, Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, NISMO. "They have come to us from different routes. Alex has driven every current Nissan racing car we have and - when you consider that I started working with him when he was racing a 350Z in GT4 - that's some journey. Max is best known for his F1 exploits, although he has competed in LM P1 before, back in 2007 when he was only 16. The addition of these two drivers shows that Nissan has cast its net wide in looking for the best driver line up for LM P1. We now have drivers who raced last year in F1, LM P2, GP3, GT3, V8s, GT500 and of course on PlayStation 3 on Gran Turismo 6!"
Chilton joins Marc Gene, Michael Krumm, Jann Mardenborough, Olivier Pla and Harry Tincknell for the season-opening race at Silverstone on 12 April. The configuration of the driver line-ups for the #22 and #23 Nissans will be announced at a later date.
Buncombe will join the team for the Le Mans 24 Hours where he will race in the #21 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO with Tsugio Matsuda and Lucas Ordonez.
LM P1 testing continues this week at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, USA with Max Chilton, Marc Gene, Jann Mardenborough, Olivier Pla and Harry Tincknell on driving duty.