Though it might seem like Alex Buncombe is fighting with a pack of AI drivers in another round of Gran Turismo, this is the real deal. Totally confident in his abilities, the skilled Brit takes this Nismo GT-R GT3 by the scruff of its neck and demonstrates how to fly through a field with surgical precision. Few courses are harder to overtake on than the narrow, off-camber, treacherous Donington, which has proven too much for quite a few drivers—even the mighty Nigel Mansell. However, Buncombe shows us that with that odd combination of gusto and circumspection, you can pick your way through a field of talented hands without too much trouble.
Well, his confidence helps disguise some of the talent required to run wheel-to-wheel with another car on a course that’s hardly wide enough to allow both through. His charge past the first few is simple enough, but once he squares up the red Ferrari marked #21. With both of them fighting for a corner in fifth gear (0:50), Buncombe is nearly shoved off the course when the Ferrari’s nose nearly beats him to the subsequent corner. With a confident prod of the brakes and a slight squirm to the left, he stops the car on the white line before he takes an agricultural excursion. That could’ve been ugly.
It helps to have a good set of brakes and plenty of grip to do battle with. Massive 330-section tires at each corner, linked to the body by Öhlins TTX-dampers, give the GT-R the grip it needs, and AP Racing brakes with a sophisticated Bosch ABS system give it a dependable stopping force for last-minute maneuvers, which are regular occurrences in a fiercely contested series like British GT, as we just saw.
Plenty of power in this category make the Nismo GT-R GT3 quick but not so fast as to give it an advantage over the naturally-aspirated competition. This Nissan produces 550 horsepower at 6,400 RPM and 470 pound-feet of turbocharged torque at 4,100 RPM, and feeds that power through a Hewland six-speed sequential gearbox to the rear wheels alone. Best of all, that torque propels a car that’s been stripped down to a respectable 2,800 pounds. Still, the atmospheric Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Astons are just as quick in the straights, so Buncombe must always be a little earlier on the throttle to outdrag them, most notably at 1:57.
Towards the sharp end of the pack, the defending only gets stronger. It’s clear at 2:06 that the red Ferrari is capable of braking late off-line. This defensive drive forces Buncombe to take a deep breath and assess the situation, as he isn’t clear of the his pursuers and cannot afford to make a failed passing attempt. He has to resort to a late braking maneuver over a crest and into a very tight right (2:44), and he carries so much speed in that the car begins to oversteer after the geometric apex. Even though he deals with a smidgen of wheelspin and a delayed throttle, he defends his position well enough to prevent an over-under maneuver.
Though the front-running three have established a lead at that point, their squabbling allows Buncombe to brake late and close the gap in only a few corners. The green Porsche is easily dispensed with, but he has to anticipate the McLaren’s overzealous entry and defensive line (4:17) to get better drive off the corner. With total confidence, he needles his way through and pounces on the Aston ahead; showing us once again how brave he is on the brakes. Ladies and gentlemen, this is an overtaking masterclass—but only one of the many Buncombe is capable of demonstrating.