Mt Panorama has been a happy hunting ground for Nissan and its grunty, noisy, menacing Nismo GT-R GT3 over the last couple of years, taking the top two steps of the podium with a combination of scintillating race pace and clever strategy.
With two factory cars entered in the race for 2017, as well as a brace of privately entered cars, the Nismos faced a new, very intense competitor group, and the subsequent race for pace saw the team’s brand new #24 hit the fence on Mountain Straight on Friday. Hard.
Driver – and former winner – Florian Strauss was thankfully okay, but the car was far from it. Chassis damage to the front left, plus structural damage to front rails and a whole host of mechanical maladies faced the crew, who started the strip at 6.30pm, working through the night with help from local trades to complete the job by 8.30am on Saturday.
The engine stayed in the car throughout, but chassis rails were re-welded, the front left corner as rebuilt and the driveline refreshed during a genuine, old-school all-night makeover.
“I knew that they could do it,” said an obviously relieved Strauss after practice on Saturday. “You worry if it is going to be all done right, but the car was better in the front end than it was before the crash.”
Sadly, gearbox issues forced the #24, which started from position 18 and was co-driven by UK-born GT Academy driver Jann Mardenborough and Supercars team owner and racer Todd Kelly into the pits for lengthy repairs at hour seven, but the team fought back to finish eighth overall.