Honda Team Motul scored the best Intercontinental GT Challenge result for the NSX GT3 Evo with a superb top-six finish at a gruelling 24 Hours of Spa.
A thrilling charge from Renger van der Zande brought the JAS Motorsport-run car up from 12th place with an hour to go, to sixth by the chequered flag. He and co-drivers Mario Farnbacher and Bertrand Baguette also claimed fifth of the IGTC-registered cars.
Starting 33rd after all three drivers failed to find space for a clear lap among the 72-car field in qualifying, the car survived a largely-wet race that featured many hours under either full-course yellow or safety-car conditions.
Behind the wheel for the opening stint, Bertrand climbed to 24th by the end of the first hour and survived a big hit from behind at La Source not long after, sustaining right-side door damage and falling eight places.
Performing superbly, the car had made it inside the top 10 by one-third distance and even led for one lap as the pitstops cycled through.
The team appeared to have benefited from a slice of good fortune when a caution period was declared just after Renger had entered the pitlane in the 10th hour.
The Dutchman took his mandatory five-minute ‘technical’ pitstop at this point; most of his rivals prevented by doing so by the race regulations that require it to be taken under green-flag conditions.
This ought to have comfortably put the NSX GT3 Evo inside the top 10 when the stops cycled through, but a strategy gamble to short-fuel the car in the middle of the night, coupled with an ill-timed caution left the car a lap down in 15th.
With the rain worsening, the race was halted for six hours at the 13-hour mark, but with the clock still running down.
Not only did this stop Mario, Renger and Bertrand regaining lost time, a further disastrously-timed caution shortly after the race resumed kept them trapped a lap down.
Never giving up, and driving perfectly despite several more pitstops for refuelling, driver swaps, and several switches from wet tyres to slicks and back, the trio continued to gain ground; Renger at the wheel in 12th place with an hour to run.
His determination immense, the Dutchman hauled the car up to sixth by the chequered flag; a result that also gave home hero Bertrand his best-ever finish at the race and Mario a Spa 24 Hours debut to remember.
Coupled with the pole position scored by the car on its IGTC debut at the California 8 Hours in March, the NSX GT3 Evo has firmly established itself as one of the fastest cars in global GT3 racing.
Customer squad Jenson Team Rocket RJN climbed from 55th on the grid to 32nd by the chequered flag to make continue the NSX GT3 Evo’s 100 per cent finish record in both the IGTC and the Blancpain GT Challenge Europe Endurance Cup.
Their quartet of Britain’s Struan Moore, Austrian Philipp Frommenwiler, American Matt McMurry and Mexican Ricardo Sanchez claimed their best finish of the year in the Silver Cup class in fourth place after another trouble-free drive.