The GT-R is a track monster. That much is known fact. There’s a reason its nickname in its Eastern homeland is Godzilla. That’s not just a half hearted allusion to a 50 year old reptilian destroyer of Japanese cities. The Nissan GT-R Godzilla’s reign has been significantly shorter- from 1989 until 2002. From 2002 until 2008, the monster took a little vacation from reigning destruction on the track, possibly took some time in the Maldives, perhaps Southern France or Hawaii. Whatever destination the beast chose to vacation, it obviously lifted a few weights, got some new clothes and has a whole new look going for itself. We now know that it came back bigger and stronger and now crashes down cities in a whole new continent in the United States Domestic Market.
The Nissan Skyline GT-R BNR32 (commonly shortened to R32) was originally intended and purpose built to dominate Group A racing (which the FIA homologated in 1982) back in the late 80’s which is how the 2.6L twin turbo powerplant (RB26DETT) coupled with an All-Wheel Drive drivetrain decision was made. This secured an intimidating competitive platform for production car racing. This was technically the 3rd generation of Nissan Skyline, but the first to arrive with forced induction and the first generation to move from solely RWD platforms to an available AWD platform. This marked the beginning of an era of total track domination by Nissan and the newly minted R32 GT-R which was soon to be dubbed “Godzilla” for its monstrous performance on the track.
Fast forward 20 years, and we have replaced the Skyline GT-R (which succeeded in BNR33, and BNR34 platforms) with just the GT-R. Confusing, I know—but the GT-R is here to replace the want and desire some of us North Americans had for the Skyline. The GT-R has been released in the USDM since 2008 and after its 2007 debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon it has made enormous waves in the racing community worldwide. Today and more recently the GT-R is becoming an easily hated heavyweight contender in the FIA GT1 class. I should explain when I say easily hated: this is a series dominated by manufacturers and cars like the Lamborghini Murcielago 670 RS, Aston Martin DB9, Ford GT and now the Nissan GT-R. Not your just average homeboy in the company of giants. A little over a week and a half ago, on May 13, the Nissan GT-R made the boldest statement yet in the GT1 series placing 4th, 5th, 7th and 9th in the championship race at Sachsenring in Saxony, Germany. That’s no typo—the GT-R took 4 spots out of the top ten meaning that every GT-R in the grid finished in the top ten. Pretty spectacular stuff considering the competition, and a rude awakening to a lot of thoroughbred companies. It’s almost like a bad dream coming back- Godzilla returns!
Here’s the Championship Race report for Round 4:
Nissan built upon a satisfying day during yesterday’s GT1 World Championship Qualifying Race to do even better today, with all four GT-Rs on the grid finishing the Championship Race in the top 10. As yesterday, the pairing of Enrique Bernoldi and Warren Hughes, in the no.20 Sumo Power GT, finished as top Nissan in fourth, a place ahead of team-mates David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter in the no.21 car. Peter Dumbreck and Richard Westbrook, in the no.22 car, were the top ranking JR Motorsports in seventh place, whilst Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm finished ninth in the no.23.
With the Nissans sitting fourth (no.20), sixth (no.22), eighth (no.21) and 11th (no.23) on the Championship Race grid after yesterday’s performances, there were to be scenes in the opening seconds very reminiscent of the chaos at the start of yesterday’s Qualifying Race. With all the cars jostling for position on the home straight as the start lights turned green, Westbrook was forced wide into the gravel in the no.22 JRM, and though he was to recover the car well, he found himself losing six positions by the time he came back on track. However, this was nothing compared to the carnage of two separate collisions that ensued seconds later, the second of which brought a premature end to the races of three cars.
Fortunately, all the Nissans were to avoid any fallout from the incidents, with Lucas Luhr, in the no.23 JRM, the main beneficiary as he moved up into seventh – a rise of four places from his start position. As the grid took their places behind the safety car, the GT-Rs found themselves in fourth (no.20), seventh (no.23), eighth (no.21) and twelfth (no.22), and seven laps later Nissans were to benefit further from a competitor’s misfortune: a problem sustained by the no.41 Mark VDS Ford allowing the latter three GT-Rs to all move up one place. This – fourth, sixth, seventh and 11th – was how it remained as the all-important pit window opened…
The pit stops saw some particularly great work by the no.22 JRM crew, who helped their car gain three places, as the GT-Rs emerged after the pit stop reshuffle in fourth (no.20), sixth (no.21), eighth (no.22) and ninth (no.23).
Enrique Bernoldi, fresh in for Warren Hughes in the no.20 Sumo Power GT, was to soon find himself under intense pressure from the no.3 Hexis AMR Aston Martin, much more suited to the tight twists and turns of the Sachsenring circuit, but there was relief for the Brazilian when the car hot on his heels for fourth span out and was forced to pit. This also had the knock on effect of lifting the nos.21, 22 and 23 Nissans up into fifth, seventh, and eighth places respectively, and these positions were to be held to the end with the exception of Krumm’s no.23 JRM, passed by the no.40 Marc VDS Ford GT with moments remaining.
Speaking afterwards, Warren Hughes, commented: “I’m very happy. Over the course of the weekend, considering how GT-R unfriendly Sachsenring is, we probably got the absolute best result we could have done, short of the top three cars in front of us failing.
“It’s probably fair to say that the car wasn’t as strong today as yesterday, as the track conditions were a bit different – slightly cooler. The sweet spot of a car is so small that tiny factors like that can make a difference, and as such we lost a little bit of performance. Overall though, I’m delighted with my personal performance as well as that of the team, and once again it feels great to be the top ranked Nissan car, because everyone knows the calibre of our drivers.”
Hughes’ co-driver in the no.20 Sumo Power GT, Enrique Bernoldi, added: “Fourth is a very positive result here in Germany on this track. As Warren mentioned, the track conditions were different today than yesterday, and in my stint in the car I really felt the effect the circuit was having on tyre wear. I was struggling to maintain position, and was put under severe pressure by the no.3 Aston Martin, but then he ran into trouble, which gave me some breathing space. That’s the kind of luck you need in racing sometimes!”
“It’s been a great weekend for Sumo Power and Nissan – we’ve picked up some valuable points that perhaps we weren’t expecting. The car is also feeling good and we seem to have ironed out some of the reliability issues that were affecting us in the first couple of races. Hopefully we can really push on now in the remainder of the season.”
Round five of the GT1 World Championship, at Silverstone, will take place on the weekend of the 4th – 5th June, 2011
Here are some excellent race pictures found on nagtroc.org: