DRIVING his way from third to first on the penultimate lap to snatch victory in the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour was a career highlight for Katsumasa Chiyo, but now he has more Mount Panorama magic in mind.
The Japanese driving star will line up for his fifth tilt at the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2019 as he steers one of two Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s entered by Hong Kong team, KCMG.
It was behind the wheel of a Nissan that Chiyo clinched the chequered flag in the world-class enduro at Mount Panorama when sharing a seat with Wolfgang Reip and Florian Strauss.
His brilliant driving in the concluding stages of the race – he sat in 10th with 15 minutes to go – helped Nissan to its first win at the Mount since 1992 when Mark Skaife and Jim Richards won the Bathurst 1000.
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Chiyo, who joins Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Liberato, Tsugio Matsuda and Australian young gun Josh Burdon in the 2019 KCMG squad, certainly enjoyed the moment.
“Winning the Bathurst 12 Hour [in 2015] was the biggest race win of my career,” Chiyo said. “Driving a GT-R to victory at Bathurst was an honour for me and something I will never forget.
“The race was so exciting and stressful right until the end and then to win was so emotional.
“It is such an amazing track, awesome fans with amazing history.”
That win made amends for Chiyo’s Bathurst 12 Hour debut in 2014 when his team failed to finish after he was involved in an incident at the top of the mountain two hours into the race.
In 2016 he placed second outright alongside Strauss and Rick Kelly – finishing a close second to the McLaren entry – and 12 months later the Nissan he shared with Michael Caruso and Alex Buncombe placed 32nd after mechanical issues.
While 32-year-old Chiyo has proven himself at the iconic 6.213 kilometre circuit, 2019 will mark KCMG’s debut at the Mount.
The team’s 12 Hour tilt will form part of its full Intercontinental GT Challenge bid, but KCMG is not a stranger to endurance racing.
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When becoming the first Chinese outfit to race at the LeMans 24 Hour in 2013, it posted a class victory. KCMG was also vice-champions in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship.
“We are really looking forward to competing at the iconic Mount Panorama circuit for the first time in the 2019 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour,” KCMG founder, Dr. Paul Ip, said.
“It will for sure be a tough challenge but we have a great team and drivers and look forward to competing against some of the world’s top teams and drivers at this world-class event.”