KCMG has named Super GT legend Tsugio Matsuda and former GT Academy winner Florian Strauss amongst its Nissan GT3 line-up for this year’s Blancpain GT Series Asia campaign, which gets underway at Sepang next weekend (April 14/15).
The Hong Kong-based squad revealed in February its plans to enter two new-for-2018 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s before also confirming the return of its Am Cup regulars Naoto Takeda and Takuya Shirasaka aboard an Audi R8 LMS GT3.
Now, just a week before the opening round, KCMG has unveiled its two Nissan crews.
Double Super GT and Formula Nippon champion Matsuda is scheduled to contest the series’ opening rounds in Malaysia and Thailand before handing over to former FIA WEC co-driver and 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Alexandre Imperatori for the remaining four events. Both will partner amateur driver Yukinori Taniguchi in the team’s #18 GT-R.
The team’s Silver Cup pairing is also strong, with German ace Strauss partnering Edoardo Liberati. Strauss has remained a NISMO Athlete since winning Nissan GT Academy in 2013 and has gone on to claim overall victory at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour as well as racing the GT-R GT3 in the European Blancpain GT Series.
Meanwhile, his Italian co-driver Liberati has accrued a wealth of GT racing experience all over the world in championships like Lamborghini Super Trofeo, Porsche Carrera Cup Italia, International GT Open and Blancpain Endurance Series. However, his crowning achievement remains winning the 2016 GT Asia title.
Tsugio Matsuda: “I’m very happy to once again represent KCMG, this time in Blancpain GT Series Asia running the new Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. I have been part of the KCMG family since 2014 and have raced for them in Asian Le Mans Series, FIA WEC and 24 Hours of Le Mans and I’m confident that the entire crew, from the mechanics to our engineers, will do a great job to provide me and my team-mates with a winning package this season. I’d like to thank KCMG Founder Paul Ip and Head of Motorsport Ryuji Doi for giving me this opportunity to once again represent the team. I cannot wait for the season to start and looking forward to seeing you all at Sepang!”
Alex Imperatori: “I’m delighted to rejoin KCMG for their upcoming GT project, especially considering that I’ve been part of every exciting new campaign that they have launched since the beginning. To once again race for KCMG is almost like coming home. The entire team, together with NISMO, has taken a tremendous amount of work to develop the 2018-spec GT-R NISMO GT3 - I’m excited to getting on track and know more about its capability. I’m absolutely looking forward to race with my co-pilot Taniguchi san who has a lot of potential as a driver. We have a great set of drivers and crew who have experience in the international racing scene, so we definitely have all the tools and people to perform well in the series. Lastly, I’d like to thank Paul Ip for his continued trust and for allowing me to be part of KCMG’s new challenge.”
Edoardo Liberati: “I’m really happy to join KCMG in this new challenge with NISMO. It will be a very intensive season and we’ve started to test the new car. This new challenge is a great chance for me to once again race in the region after winning GT Asia in 2016. It’s good to be back in this environment - I like the atmosphere and extremely enjoy the circuits. I’d like to extend my massive thanks to NISMO and KCMG for this opportunity and their confidence in me.”
Florian Strauss: “I’m delighted and would like to thank Paul Ip and KCMG for giving me this opportunity to be involved in their Blancpain effort with NISMO this season. I’m very happy to be part of the line-up and looking forward to be working together with a professional team who has extensive experience in different racing series around the world. It will be my first time to compete in Blancpain GT Series Asia and I’m especially happy that we’re running the 2018-spec Nissan GTR NISMO GT3. The KCMG livery suits the GTR very well and the car really looks good. I have experience with the old car so I’m looking forward to see and feel the difference of the new version. The upcoming season will be a new challenge for me given that I’m unfamiliar with some of the circuits, but I’m confident that with the team’s experience from last year, they will help me to be prepared as best as they can. I can’t wait for the season to start and I hope that we will have a successful year.”
Yukinori Taniguchi: “It's a great honour to be part of this project and to be racing with KCMG alongside Alex and Matsuda san. Personally, it will be a massive challenge but I’m ready and looking forward to work with the entire team and to know from my co-drivers. The new Nissan GTR NISMO GT3 is a very powerful package and I’m excited to race this car in some of the best circuits around Asia. Thank you to Paul Ip and Ryuji Doi for this opportunity!”