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Old 05-21-2004, 03:19 PM   #1
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A little R32 GTR history

Read the history of GODZILLA, then you might understand a little more about its mystic, and legendary performance

May 1989

Magazines preview the R32 model range. Even one month prior to release, the Australian press think the new model will share a v6 powerplant with the Infiniti range.

July 1989

One month after the R32 launch in Japan. The GT-R is covered, and a Group A version is pondered, the Australian press not realising the first 500 GT-R's built are in fact the homologation build run.

October 1989

Gibson Motorsport take delivery of four R32 GT-R road cars from Japan. Gibson Motorsport has been recognised by Nissan Japan for their efforts with the previous HR31 GTS-R Skylines. Gibson Motorsport are the only team outside of Japan to get GT-R's at such an early stage. Initial plans are to disable the HICAS 4 wheel steering system until the rest of the car is sorted. Due to homologation, they can run the cars either with HICAS or without.

The homologated weight is 1260kg, which is still heavier than the Ford RS500 Sierra at 1185kg. Gibson expects the first engines to have an output of 600hp much more than the HR31 GTS-R's RB20DET-R which pushed out 460hp in 1989, and 370hp in 1988.

Fred Gibson flew to Japan in mid October with Nissan Motorsport Manager Paul Beranger, engineers Trevor Jones and Andrew Bartley to inspect the first GT-R race car built by Nissan Japan.

The Gibson team invest AU$300,000 - AU$400,000 in a sophisticated telemetry system in anticipation for the GT-R development programme.

Anders Olofsson (Swedish) becomes the first western driver to sample the Nissan GT-R prototype race cars. He reports that he has driven two GT-R race cars, the first has been around since May 1989 and has been a homologation development "mule", with the second being the prototype race car. The development car was built to test engines, transmissions, suspension, and cooling systems. It was equipped with sophisticated instruments. Both cars were trailed with Bridgestone and Dunlop tyres. As a side note, the Gibson Motorsport team were contracted with Yokohama.

November 1989

Australian's see a burgundy GT-R used as the official pace car at the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide.

March 1990

The GT-R is officially homologated for Group A racing on 1 March.

April 1990

Gibson Motorsport roll out their first GT-R for a shakedown at Winton raceway on 11 April. Engineers from Japan and England join the team for the shakedown. Mark Skaife does the driving duties, while Jim Richards drives the current HR31 GTS-R as a measuring stick. Gibson had pulled the car's debut back because of parts supply issues. Nissan Japan sent four engineers from their experimental department to help Gibson Motorsport build the first car. All the parts arrived in assemblies eg. front suspension, engine and gearbox.

At the Winton test, the engine used was a unit sent over from Japan. It used a Japanese management system which restricted boost to 1.3 bar and power was about 550hp. The Gibson Motorsport team intended to replace the Japanese management system with their own Electromotive system and run higher boost, around 1.5 bar for 580hp.

Hollinger are commissioned to design and build a 6 speed gearbox for the GT-R. Nissan Japan decided they would also use the Hollinger box and placed their order.

During the shakedown, the team experimented with different EPROMS in the 4WD system. They started out with 45% front bias, and have different EPROMS to deliver 10, 20, 30% splits. [I'm unsure if the system uses EPROMS, perhaps it's a bit of bogus information in the report]

Wheels magazine staffer Peter McKay joins the Gibson team at Mallala for a test session. McKay is lined up to have a drive of the prototype - but the car breaks two half shafts, and the team have to wait for spares to arrive from Japan. A later test session takes place at Calder. McKay reports the Electromotive management system is in place, as is the first of the Australian built engines the power output is quoted at 520hp with 1.2 bar boost, and 576hp (429kw) / 410nm with 1.8 bar boost. Tyres are 11 inches wide, and run at about 5 degrees of negative camber.

McKay reports the car is easy to drive, with a light clutch and a smooth power delivery (unlike the previous HR31 and DR30 that he has driven). The car has four electric coolers for the front diff, rear diff, transfer case, and the gearbox.

June 1990

The GT-R race car has it's competition debut at Mallala on 8 June 1990. Mark Skaife is the driver. The decision to use Mark Skaife was due to Jim Richards' points position in the Australian touring car championship it was thought that having Jim debut the new car would jeopardise him winning the championship if anything went wrong.

The GT-R used Japanese wheels that cost the Gibson team AU$2,000 each, and only last one race this is just one example of how important it was to develop local content for the GT-R programme.

During unofficial practice on the Friday, Skaife was under the lap record by 2.4 seconds, and was 1 second quicker than the fastest Sierra (Brock). The reported power output was 585hp or 436kw.

Saturday qualifying saw the car was sidelined briefly when a left front hub failed, damaging an oil cooler, the brakes, and causing the wheel to depart. The car was quickly repaired, and Skaife was able to qualify third on the grid.

Skaife started out of the third grid position, and was able to get into the lead on the 10th lap. The car retired about lap 20 with another broken left front hub.

Jim Richards takes over the car at the next ATC round at Wanneroo (24 June 1990) he had to finish in front of Dick Johnson to keep his title aspirations alive. Both he and Mark Skaife were cross entered in the GT-R and the GTS-R. The team were still fiddling with the 4WD splits, and an engine management problem that saw the motor to over-fuel and misfire during qualifying. Jim managed to qualify 4th on the grid. The GT-R had a new engine transplanted and all the electronics replaced after qualifying on the Saturday night.

At the start of the race, Jim launched into second place. The decision to put Jim in the GT-R was justified when Skaife broke a half shaft in the GTS-R on the startline. Jim was overtaken and pushed back to 4th on the road for most of the race, eventually finishing in 4th 50 minutes later. Dick Johnson meanwhile had crashed out with a broken brake calliper taking out the right front wheel.

July 1990

Sansui come on board as a major sponsor for Gibson Motorsport, the money rumoured to be around AU$1,000,000.

George Fury (long time Gibson Motorsport driver) departs the team.

The final ATC round at Oran park (July 15 1990) saw Jim attempt to secure his ATC championship. The GT-R again proving troublesome during the qualifying sessions, needing a turbo downpipe replaced and a diff change that took 6 hours. Jim qualified first, a tenth of a second in front of Dick Johnson. At the start of the race, Jim lead with a couple of car lengths and soon drew it out to a 3 second margin back to second place by lap 2. By about lap 20, the gap was out to 20 seconds and building. Jim took the flag, still leading by a fair margin.
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Old 05-21-2004, 03:20 PM   #2
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August 1990

The Bathurst entry list is released. Nissan enter only one car the pairing of Jim Richards and Mark Skaife, the second car couldn't be completed due to parts supply problems. As a side note, the name "Godzilla" is yet to surface Gibson Motorsport and the press refer to the GT-R as "The Weapon"

September 1990

Gibson Motorsport miss the Sandown 500 race. The rest of the entries to the race was slim, with most of the major teams entering only one car.

The Bathurst previews predict that the GT-R will be hampered by it's weight, stressing components like brakes and suspension. Only in Japan had GT-R's had any endurance testing, locally the GT-R was still an unknown as to how it would do over 1,000 km.

October 1990

The GT-R debut at Bathurst.

The Gibson Motorsport team arrives at Bathurst with two GT-R's, with four spare engines, four differentials (two front, two rear), spare gearboxes, 30 wheels, 150 tyres, and 20 team members. 10 members remained at the Melbourne base in case of emergency.

The GT-R destined for the race was brand new, it was still a bodyshell when the existing GT-R won at Oran park. The other GT-R was the championship winning car it was to be used for testing to keep wear and tear on the new car to a minimum.

Early qualifying saw the GT-R hampered with bad brake problems. The team experimented with different wheel cylinder and master cylinder sizes, front to rear. Skaife had many spins off the track as the ideal balance was worked out. Jim Richards eventually qualified the car with a disappointing 2m 15.66 seconds for 11th on the grid in two wheel drive mode! The electronics had packed a sad leaving the car with only the rears driving.

The race itself was a different picture by the end of lap 1 the GT-R was up to 8th and in the second lap was a second faster than any other car in the field. Jim blasted by the leading Niedzwiedz Sierra going up Mountain straight on lap 10, waving as he went past. By lap 20, the GT-R had extended the lead to 20 seconds. By this time Fred Gibson was on the radio telling Jim to back off.

Jim responded by going one second a lap quicker. When the lead was out to 32 seconds, the pace was relaxed to 2m 19s a lap.

The first pitstop for the GT-R was on lap 34 when Jim bought the car in for new brake pads, fuel, tyres and Mark Skaife to take over the driving duties. The stop took 1m 30s, far longer than most of the other leading teams. By lap 40, the GT-R was back up to 6th place on the road. It was back in the lead by lap 58 thanks to some of the leading cars pitting.

Three hours into the race, the GT-R was still running, and still in the lead. Skaife bought the car into the pits on lap 72 for a scheduled stop for brake pads, fuel, Jim, and something that was pumped into the cooling system. The stop took 2m 22 seconds another long stop. The car rejoined the race in 9th position.

On lap 95, the Nissan came in with a diff problem that sidelined the car for 25 minutes. It rejoined, but 13 laps later returned with a misfire an electrode had "fallen off" one of the sparkplugs. After the stop, Mark Skaife set a new lap record of 2m 15.46 seconds. The car continued to the end of the race with no further problems, finishing 18th, 15 laps behind the winning Percy / Grice Commodore.

November 1990

The Group A circus moves to Adelaide to support the GP. Skaife rolls one of the GT-R's and suffers bruising. [I'm missing details on this event]

The Eastern Creek raceway opens with the Nissan 500 endurance race for Group A cars. Most of the Bathurst teams enter. Qualifying was interesting as the track surface was "green" and some of the drivers found it difficult to master the new track.

The GT-R qualified on pole with a 1m 35.26 second lap. Skaife is scheduled to share the drive with Richards - but due to Skaife's bruised condition, Neil Crompton is pencilled in as a potential relief driver. The team experimented with spring and sway bar changes to get the best from the hard "S" compound Yokohama tyres.

In the race Richards sprinted away and had a 50 meter lead by turn two. The car lead strongly until lap 21 when it lost the left hand front wheel. Jim bought it into the pits, where another wheel was fitted. The car rejoined in 11th position. Lap 51 saw the GT-R back in the pits for a driver change to Skaife. The GT-R had lost all it's coolant due to a split bore or blown head gasket. Despite the teams attempts the engine wouldn't restart and the car was put away.

The major teams made the trip over to New Zealand for the Nissan Mobil 500 series at Wellington and Pukekohe.

Wellington [Missing details] won by a European BMW M3

Pukekohe got off to a slow start after Wellington the track was still undergoing work being bought up to international standards, pushing the Friday practice session to Saturday morning.

Overnight rain saw the conditions as wet (we bogged the Fairmont doing donuts in the car park). Skaife did the morning session, with the team mucking around with the suspension. My main memory of his session was the GT-R doing a huge backfire - leaving a smoking patch on the track.

Mark Skaife and Jim Richards qualified third on the grid behind Dick Johnson (who lost two engines on Saturday) and Brock, both in Sierra RS500's. In the race it took Skaife two laps to get past the Sierras. The Nissan game-plan called for the car to pull a 30 second lead, and then settle into a more relaxed pace. By lap 23, the GT-R's lead was out to 20 seconds over Brock. We were entertained with the DJR RS500 blowing intercooler hoses off multiple times, and another Sierra smacking into a kerb.

The GT-R kept leading until lap 32 when Skaife reported a loss of power one of the turbos had blown. The car was retired. The European BMW M3's also expired within a couple of laps, one with a blown engine, and the other with accident damage. The Brock Sierra cruised to the finish and took the flag.

There was a good interview with Fred Gibson published in Auto Action which gives some interesting insights: In Japan, the top GT-R teams are reported to have reached the 600hp mark in competition, up from 570hp that most of them have been running with. The main problem with the Australian developed GT-R's were brakes, the cylinder bore or block cracking and the turbos. For 1991 the rules were relaxed on brakes, so that problem could be more easily worked through. The blocks had been cracking due to a harmonic in the engine up until Pukekohe the team had been using a block every race. New engine mounts were used to cure this. The turbo failures were blamed on quality control at Garret the Gibson team invested in their own balancing machine so they could assemble their own turbos instead of buying complete units from Garret in Japan.
__________________

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Old 05-21-2004, 03:21 PM   #3
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January 1991

A bit of background is needed here as the 1993 rule change was essentially influenced by these events and conditions.

The CAMS motorsport body was in trouble. It was running out of money, and needed restructuring. To compound the issue, there was a general downturn in the economy. CAMS responded by charging large registration fees of AU$6,000 per car for the ATC, and tracks were charged AU$10,000 to host a round. In addition, because the Group A format was administered by FISA in Europe, the regulations were hard to work with. This had caused delays in getting the new VN Group A Commodore homologated for competition.

The rules were revised for the 1991 season aiming to keep the fields even. The Sierra's had 85kg removed from their minimum weight, bringing them down to 1,100kg. They also got a six speed gearbox. The Commodores also lost some weight 75kg down to 1250kg, and a host of freedoms including the entire inlet system, the valves and ports were free, and the inner wheel guards could be modified to fit wider tyres. The BMW M3 was allowed to run similar freedoms as the Commodores, at a featherweight 960kg. The GT-R had it's minimum weight increased to 1360kg. [the reporting of weights is not consistent the homologation weight of the GT-R was 1260kg, yet the press report an increase of 35kg from 1325kg. Go figure]

In April, the minimum weights are further revised with an across the board increase of 2.5% in all cars. This was done so the private teams didn't have to resort to expensive exotic materials to reach the same weights as the factory teams.

The season looked like being a difficult one the entries were well down, with a core group of 12 cars contesting all rounds, and very small fields. Even at this stage there was talk of making a full grid at Bathurst by allowing the standard Group E production cars to join the Group A race.

February 1991

The first round of the ATC at Sandown. Jim Richards qualified on pole, with Mark Skaife 0.04 seconds behind. Skaife was complaining of some problems. Behind them it was wall to wall Sierra's, now a little faster with their new 6 speed gearboxes and lighter minimum weight. The field was small, only 19 cars on the grid.

The race itself was over with a minute of it starting. Jim and Mark blasted off the start line and had a 20 meter lead over the next car on the track. On lap 2, Jim laid down a new lap record 1m 15.70 seconds quicker than the fastest of the Sierra's by 1.31 seconds. Ouch.

One interesting moment occurred at the three quarter mark in the race the new BMW M3 of Tony Longhurst demonstrated it's future potential by out braking Skaife going into a corner while Skaife was attempting to lap the slower M3. The GT-R's crossed the finish line for a 1-2 result, Richards leading Skaife.

March 1991

The second round of the ATC at Symmons Plains. Qualifying made for an interesting race Jim qualified on pole by a huge margin of more than 2 seconds, helped by damp conditions. Mark had damaged his GT-R in practice and was at the back of the grid in 13th. The economy and stiff registration fees were having their impact on the size of the field the privateers could no longer afford to compete in the ATC. Win Percy put his Commodore alongside the GT-R on the front row, the first time in 5 years that a Commodore has made the front row of a ATC grid.

By this time, there was a fairly unified plea from the other drivers to CAMS to slow the Skylines down the results so far were crushing to say the least. CAMS sat on their hands for the moment. Some of the teams resorted to using non-homologated add-ons to their cars: huge brake cooling ducts, fins on wheels etc. The touring car entrants association moved to have a cleanup of the cars the ducts disappeared from some of the Sierra's and the Nissan's had to raise the height of some coolers that protruded below the front spoiler.

The start of the race was cautions with a bit of pushing and barging at the front. Jim was able to establish a 4 second gap back to Johnson by lap 8. Skaife meantime was working his way through the field, and by lap 24 was behind Richards, making another Nissan 1-2 formation finish.

April 1991

The third round of the ATC at Wanneroo April 14. The touring car circus made it's way over to Western Australia. Only 11 cars fronted for the race. Expecting to be humbled by the GT-R's again most teams had spent the time between Symmons Plains and Wanneroo testing and reducing weight in their cars.

Dick Johnson managed to qualify his Sierra on pole, with Win Percy's Commodore alongside. Jim Richards was one row back in third, suffering from understeer, which also afflicted Mark Skaife back in 6th position on the grid. 1.48 seconds separated the first and last cars on the grid after qualifying, even though the field was small - it was close. Some of the other teams assumed the Gibson team were sandbagging to hide the potential of the cars. Jim explained "There are lots of high speed changes in direction here and with a full load of fuel the car has inherent understeer characteristics". During qualifying, both cars had spins off into the sand, and were able to simply drive out thanks to their 4WD.

At the start, Dick launched his Sierra perfectly, Percy was slower and jumped in behind the fast starting Sierra this blocked Jim in, leaving Skaife with an open track ahead. Skaife basted through and took up second position on the road. Johnson pulled out a 2 second lead back to Skaife, Percy and Richards. Skaife grabbed the lead when Johnson's Sierra lost water and power. On lap 10, Richards slipped past Percy to make another GT-R 1-2. By lap 30 they were 6 seconds clear of the cars behind them. Mark lead Jim across the line.

AMSCAR at Ameroo, April 21. The AMSCAR series is made up of short sprint races of 10 laps each, very different to the 50 minute ATC touring car rounds. The Gibson Motorsport team entered one GT-R for Mark Skaife. In qualifying, the GT-R struggled with understeer, but still claimed pole position - and still faster than any other Group A car had ever lapped Ameroo Park.

At the start, Skaife blasted away and set a blistering pace. By lap two he was 2 seconds clear of the second placed car, and claimed a new lap record of 51.16s. Skaife took the flag with a 16.3 second gap back to Tony Longhurst in the M3.

The second race start was a carbon copy of the first. Skaife got away to a good start but was unable to extend his lead further than 1.7 seconds over Longhurst. Skaife lead until lap 5 when a bad misfire developed Skaife said "I could have got out and run alongside, it was going so slow". The car made it back to the pits and retired.

Lakeside April 28 Round 4 of the ATC. The Lakeside track in Queensland is home track to several teams so it was anticipated there would be better competition for the Skylines. In qualifying Jim planted his GT-R on pole in front of Tony Longhurst. Skaife was back in row two in 3rd position.

At the start of the race Richards lead , and Skaife was up to second by the end of the first lap (yet another 1-2). Richard had lapped the entire field up to 5th position, behind him Skaife held a 9 second gap back to the third placed BMW M3 of Longhurst. This was the way they finished.

The name Godzilla is used in race reports starting the widespread acceptance and use of the term.
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Old 05-21-2004, 03:22 PM   #4
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May 1991

Round 5 at Winton in rural Victoria. Qualifying was a repeat of earlier rounds with Jim putting the GT-R on pole. He revealed his secret "It's simple. You just go as fast as you can without slipping off the track". Skaife listened and ran off the track into the dirt many times in an effort to go faster. He ended up in 5th position on the grid.

At the start of the race Jim assumed the lead off the start line. Skaife decided to use the grass beside the track as an alternate route and pushed his way to 3rd giving Percy's Commodore a hit on the way. Some of the field were smothered in dust from Skaife's launch which caused them to hesitate and bunch up. Skaife made his way into second position on lap 12. The Nissan 1-2 continued to the flag, Richards leading Skaife over the line.


June 1991

Round 6 Amaroo Park June 2. By now things were looking a bit glum for the ATC The GT-R's had dominated the first 5 rounds and finishing in 1-2 formation at each. More work was needed to match the pace of the GT-R's.

Dick Johnson had some trick Japanese Dunlop tyres to try the head of development from Dunlop Japan had flown in to watch. The tyres worked - Dick Johnson and John Bowe made the first all Sierra front row in a while. Skaife made 3rd on the grid trying harder tyres to counter the GT-R's tendency to understeer in and oversteer out of corners. In contrast, Jim ventilated his GT-R's block when a conrod bolt failed, forcing him to start from last position on the grid. "It will be fun" he commented.

At the start, both Sierra's got away to a good start side by side preventing Skaife from getting past them. On the first lap, Richards passed 8 cars to move from 22nd to 14th on the road. Meanwhile Bowe was blocking Skaife while team boss Johnson pulled out a handy 2 second lead after 4 laps. After a while, Skaife was able to use his superior traction to get past Bowe's Sierra coming out of a sharp corner. By lap six the lead was cut to a second, two laps later Richards was up to 8th and carving through the field fast. On lap 10 Skaife was able to overtake Johnson and take the lead. Johnson was quickly taken as well by Tony Longhurst in the rapid M3.

Longhurst applied lots of pressure to Skaife from lap 15 to 28 when Tony was able to dive up the inside of the GT-R and take the lead. By lap 36 Richards was up to 4th on the road, loosing a little time with a huge powerslide. Jim was able to make it up to 3rd after overtaking Bowe whose tyres had expired. Skaife repeated the same powerslide mistake a couple of laps later - allowing Jim to slip into 2nd place. Jim set out with 5 laps remaining to catch the BMW. Richards got to within 1.6 seconds of the M3 but Longhurst took the flag making the first car other than a GT-R to win a round of the ATC. Tony later confessed "The last 10 laps went on forever and when I realised it was Jim and not Mark in my mirrors, I sh1t myself"

Round 7 Mallala June 23 bought some interesting developments. The Gibson Motorsport team was still short of sponsorship, and at that stage they may have had to cut back to one car in 1992. Jim Richards was reportedly in discussion with TWR and Win Percy about a possible move to Holden at the end of the year. In response, Fred Gibson swapped Jim's faster car with Mark's the official team line was that it was for testing and set-up purposes for the endurance races later in the year. Political darts.

Skaife qualified on pole, with Richards alongside. In the race, they both got clean starts and took off in typical GT-R style. By the fifth lap, the GT-R's were lapping one second quicker than any other car in the field. By lap 20 the gap was the full length of the back straight between Richards and the pursuing Glen Seton Sierra.

The finish wasn't a formation Skaife crossed the line 20 seconds ahead of Richards, and a further 3 seconds back to Longhurst.

Early June saw a series of options from the CAMS motor racing commission to hobble the GT-R for 1992. Among the recommendations were ideas such as forcing the cars to run in rear wheel drive only, to put restrictors in front of the turbos like the WRC cars, to reduce the tyre width (so the GT-R had the same amount of driven rubber on the road as a rear drive making 5 " tyres all round!). Not surprisingly, Gibson Motorsport and Nissan threatened legal action. CAMS then asked Gibson to produce a counter proposal to bring the GT-R's performance back to the rest of the field.

According to reports at the time, Gibson had been testing the various options at Wanneroo the air restrictors were in place for the qualifying, but not the race. They also tested the car in rear wheel drive mode with the front drive shafts removed. Lap times at Winton were 2 seconds slower with the 2WD. Fred Gibson points out the cars were built to meet the rules and should not be penalised for doing a good job.
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Old 05-21-2004, 03:23 PM   #5
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July 1991

Round 8 Lakeside July 14. This was quite a rare event a circuit hosting two rounds of the ATC. The development work done to the cars was graphically illustrated by Mark Skaife claiming pole going 1 second faster than the lap record he set back in April. The team experimented with different compound Yokohamas as well as hard and soft suspension settings. The cars were quicker with a hard suspension despite Lakeside's bumpy surface. There was some controversy when Skaife spun off the track blistering the soft tyres fitted. Gibson got the go-ahead from officials to replace the tyres with a new set, making some rivals unhappy [Shell series rules at that time were to qualify and race on one set of marked tyres]

Jim qualified third on the grid after a minor off during his hot lap.
During the race warm up, the GT-R's ran quite a few laps at race pace and people were wondering about the durability of the soft compound tyres the team had chosen to use.

At the race start the GT-R's used their proven 7,800 rpm clutch dumps to rocket off the line, Jim getting past Brock for second before the first corner. By the 4th lap Skaife and Richard were 2.36 seconds clear of Brock back in 3rd. The Sierra couldn't maintain the pace and began to drop back with a blistering rear tyre. By lap 12, the GT-R's were 7 seconds clear of Longhurst's BMW M3 who had just overtaken Brock. The BMW pushed hard and eventually got the gap to the leading GT-R's down to 3.81 seconds making the Nissan's drive harder than intended. Skaife pulled into the pits for fresh rubber, rejoining in 6th. One lap later, Longhurst drove around the outside of Jim's GT-R into a corner to take the lead. Richards pulled into the pits for new tyres, rejoining in 5th Skaife was now 4th on the track. Both Skaife and Richards were able to pass Glen Seton's Sierra to make it into 3rd and 4th. Skaife claimed a new lap record 53.16, but soon began to slow with a misfire attributed to a fouled plug - Richards overtaking Skaife on lap 45. Longhurst and Alan Jones (both BMW M3's) crossed the line ahead of Richards and Skaife.

With a 3rd place, Jim had claimed the title in the slower of the two GT-R's. If Skaife had crossed the line in front the title fight would have gone onto the next round. The rumours of Jim Richards leaving for Holden were put to rest when he signed with Gibson Motorsport for another two years pending sponsorship.

Thursday 25 July 1991 The Bob Forbes owned GIO team take delivery of the first privateer GT-R. The car had been build by Gibson Motorsport as a customer car. One major issue that impacted the GIO GT-R was tyres. They were unable to get the Yokohamas that the factory GT-R's used, so were limited to using Japanese Dunlops. In Japan, there was a major tyre "war" going on with stiff competition in the Japanese Group A scene. As a result Dunlop Japan wouldn't supply their best tyres to the GIO team for fear that the GIO team's close ties to Gibson's team would see bitter rival Yokohama get their hands on the trick Dunlops!

The team were able to get about 50 laps of shakedown testing done before the final AMSCAR round at Amaroo, Mark Skaife helping to set the new car up. Gibbs commented that the Nissan people claimed it had no lag, but compared to his previous Group A VN Commodore, he could feel lag.

Longhurst grabbed pole, with Gibbs back in 3rd spot, still getting to grips with the new car.

The first race start was interesting: Gibbs making a demon start "I could not believe it, it just shot off the line. I was past Tony before he had even moved". He had been told to stand on the gas for maximum revs and dump the clutch. "I don't like working the engine like that, but that's what they told me, and that's what I did." By the first corner he was one second clear of the Longhurst M3. Mark Gibbs managed to hold the lead for the first lap, bit on the second was taken by Longhurst in an outbraking manoeuvre. Gibbs blasted past for the lead once more, but was again taken by Tony on lap 4. Over the next six laps the pair raced side by side, swapping the lead twice with Longhurst managing to take the flag by 0.2 of a second from Gibbs.

Race two saw a similar start for Gibbs, another launch from the second row and he was in the lead by the first corner. Gibbs kept the lead on lap two, with Longhurst nearly alongside. On lap 3 the BMW grabbed the lead for a few brief seconds before the Gibbs GT-R muscled past. Longhurst managed to get past on lap 7, and kept the lead up to the flag winning by 0.36 of a second from Gibbs.

Overseas in Europe, the Nissan GT-R's dominate the Spa 24 hour classic. The Group A entry of Anders Olofsson / David Brabham / Naoki Hattori qualified on pole and lead the race from start to finish. The GT-R had a one minute lead before the end of the first hour. By the early morning - the GT-R was clear by three laps, eventually winning by a crushing 21 laps from the Porsche Carerra 2 in second. In the Group N class for standard production cars, the Nissan GT-R's finished 1-2. All three of the GT-R's crossed the finish line in formation.
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Old 05-21-2004, 03:24 PM   #6
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August 1991

The final ATC Round, Oran Park August 11. Skaife claimed pole he was simply faster than any other car in all the practice and qualifying sessions. The car was badly affected with a "pig-routing" exit to one of the off camber corners, the shock absorber rebound getting the blame. Team manager Fred planned to return here to experiment with suspension in the near future. Jim was a little slower in 3rd spot on the grid after similar handling problems to Skaife at one stage the car scraped a wall after it jumped sideways. 9th on the grid was the GIO GT-R, Gibbs commenting he needed more time in the car. During practice he was able to lower his lap times by 2.5 seconds as he got used to the GT-R.

Skaife demonstrated the GT-R's launching capability once again, leading off the line. Jim however was a little slower off the mark and kept his 3rd position. Gibbs was squeezed back to 11th on the track in the opening corner scrap. At the end of the first lap Skaife was nearly three seconds clear of the second placed Sierra of Bowe. There was a huge battle between Bowe, Richards and Brock for the second position, Brock managing to get past Richards. The Commodore was doing quite well with some special Bridgestone tyres and a fresh race motor (it was the fastest car down the front straight all weekend).

Further back Gibbs was baulked when he was faced with a RS500 hatch falling from the sky Johnson had clashed with Percy's Commodore and the complete rear hatch had been torn off and hurled skywards. Jim was able to make it back to 3rd after Bowe's car started to develop a misfire, both Brock and Richards got past the slowing Sierra. Jim overtook Brock for second place, but shortly afterwards the GT-R's engine expired leaving oil everywhere. Jim later explained that the engine had done 2,000 km, and the failure may have been caused by a cam follower or valve breaking.

By lap 15 Skaife was 8.46 seconds clear of Longhurst and Jones who had got past Brock. Gibbs was up to 6th. At the end of the race, Skaife took the flag by 23 seconds back to the Longhurst and Jones M3's, Mark Gibbs bringing the GIO GT-R in for 5th place.

The entry list for Bathurst is released there is a full field of 57 entries without resorting to padding out the entry list with the Group E production cars. There is a media and test day at Bathurst some of the leading teams appear including the Gibson team. Jim cleans up the test day with the fastest lap (2:14.95s) and reaching 299kph on Conrod Straight. Win Percy almost matches with 297kph in his Commodore.

September 1991

The 1 September Sandown 500, again saw some of the major teams missing the Gibson GT-R's and the Dick Johnson team didn't enter.

The GIO team bought their new GT-R out to play at Sandown. With a small field of 15 starters and a high attrition rate the GT-R driven by Mark Gibbs and Rohan Onslow won the race by 6 laps. It wasn't quite as easy as it sounds Glen Seton had chased them very hard until his Sierra expired, and the GT-R was having some difficulties with the brakes. The Sandown 500 did demonstrate that the GT-R could last the distance in an endurance race. Roll on Bathurst!

The Gibson team reveal the drivers of the second GT-R Drew Price and Garry Waldon.



October 1991

The first day of practice opened on Wednesday. The much fancied Shell 17 and 18 Sierras started off well with a split bore, and a detonated engine within the first couple of laps the start of a disastrous Bathurst for the Johnson team. The Gibson team started bedding in brake pads on the #2 car. They felt it was a bit faster then the #1 car, so the team changed the lead car's specification to match the #2 entry. The ducts that had been removed earlier in the year showed up again on the GT-R's the Gibson team figuring that Bathurst was very separate from the regular ATC rounds.

The GIO team GT-R was running well in the first practice sessions, they were pulling 2m 18 second laps without pushing hard. Mark Gibbs commenting he was more confident in the car with more time under his belt.

On the Thursday practice sessions Skaife turned in a lap of 2m 12.84 seconds, good enough for provisional pole. Richards was able to get within a second of that lap time on a full load of fuel. The team spent most of the practice sessions working with the brakes last year had shown that the GT-R's were very hard on their brakes. Different combinations of pads were tried as well as different nozzles on the brake water spray. The second GT-R was a little slower, both drivers spending time in the car getting used to it. Draw Price managed a best lap of 2m 20s. The GIO GT-R was also taking things quiet. The team thought their Dunlops may give them a little trouble they had a smaller rolling diameter than the Gibson teams' Yokohamas. If anything the smaller Dunlops gave the GIO a fair bit of speed: 4 kph faster up Mountain straight than the Skaife car. Gibbs put in a best lap of 2m 15.45 seconds. The BMW's that had been close to the GT-R's during the ATC managed a best lap of 2m 17 seconds thanks to a special screamer engine that was built with only one piston ring on each piston and a higher rev limit of 9,700 RPM. Not bad for a naturally aspirated 2.5 litre engine!

On the Thursday practice sessions the GIO GT-R had some computer problems that caused it to run roughly. The Gibson motorsport team plugged in their laptop and solved the problem. GT-R's now held first, second, and third fasted qualifying times. Gibson claimed the cars were in full race trim. He also announced the team could change the brake pads quicker than dumping in a full load of fuel.

The Friday practice session allowed the GT-R based teams to work on their race setups while the other teams were still working at putting in a quick qualifying time. The GIO team practised changing the brake pads, as well as the disc rotors.

Saturday's top ten shootout saw the fastest 10 cars in the field have a single lap on a clear track to try and get the pole position.

Drew Price cut a 2m 16.30 second lap for his run in the second Gibson GT-R. Mark Gibbs pulled a very clean and quick lap of 2m 13.88s. Mark Skaife drove a awesome lap and recorded a 2m 12.84s. Skaife later said "It was a pretty good lap, I got bit untidy in a couple of spots, but that is about as good as we could do."

The starting positions were settled: Skaife on pole (Richards would actually start the race), Gibbs in second, and Drew Price in 4th behind the Glen Seton Sierra. The top ten was made up of three GT-R's, four RS500 Sierra's, and three VN Commodore's.

The Saturday afternoon was spent with a little more practice changing the brake pads. The Gibson team were able to change the pads in about 35 seconds, the GIO team about 90 seconds. The reason for the difference in times was the Gibson cars were using 4 spot Nismo/Alcon calipers, while the GIO team had 6 spot calipers that took a bit longer to change the pads with.
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Old 05-21-2004, 03:27 PM   #7
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Raceday October 6 1991

The GIO team scored a prize before that start of the race best presented race car. The race start was a different story the GT-R's were expected to make their normal quick getaway, but Jim muffed the start and allowed the Gibbs car to lead into the first corner. By the end of the first lap Gibbs had a 2.75 second lead over John Bowe's Sierra. Jim Richards was able to out brake Bowe to claim second during lap 2. By the third lap Jim was in the lead.

The second GT-R of Drew Price had briefly scrapped for 5th place with a group of Commodores, but began to drop back with a very soft brake pedal. Price had to pump the brakes before each big corner.

Jim was lapping in the 2m 18s times, and by lap 6 had a seven second gap back to the GIO GT-R. Bowe was able to overtake the Gibbs GT-R shortly afterwards, claiming the fastest time down Conrod of 283 kph. Lap 10 had Jim leading Bowe by 11 seconds with Glen Seton back a further 2 seconds.

By lap 20 the lead was out to 13 seconds over Bowe, with Gibbs sitting in 5th place. Bowe pitted early allowing everyone to shuffle up one spot. On lap 29 the second Gibson team GT-R pitted for a 27 second pitstop a fresh set of tyres and a load of fuel. The brake pads weren't changed as Drew Price had got used to the soggy brakes. The GIO team pitted on lap 32 for a front brake pad change which was done in 1 minute. Rohan Onslow took over the driving and resumed in 8th place. The team examined the old pads to monitor the wear, they were only half worn but the team decided to change the pads at every stop anyway.

The second Gibson GT-R began to have troubles around this time. The first problem was a bad vibration and handling from the fresh tyres. Price bought the GT-R into the pits for fresh rubber and a check over. The vibration was gone. A couple of laps later a turbo hose blew off. During the pitstop to rectify that problem, the team changed the brake pads. All these dramas saw the car drop to 32nd place, 15 minutes behind the leading Richards / Skaife GT-R.

Jim pulled the GT-R into the pits on lap 36 for tyres, fuel and Skaife. The stop was completed in 25 seconds, and dropped the car into second. Skaife pulled a blistering 2m 16s lap, more than 4 seconds faster then Dick Johnson who was currently leading. Dick pitted, handing the lead back to Skaife.

At lap 40 Skaife led the Seton Sierra by 37 seconds. The GIO GT-R was back in 9th position, with the Price / Waldon GT-R way back in 30th. The pace of the leading GT-R was such that it was lapping other cars in the top ten by the second hour.

The Price / Waldon GT-R pitted again on lap 45 for a quick diagnostic to work out why the car was off song. An intercooler hose was replaced, and Garry Waldon left the pits to find the car back at full health.

Skaife pulled into the pits with a lead of 2m 5 seconds over John Bowe. The stop took 50 seconds for a full load of fuel, tyres, a brake pad change and Jim Richards to take over driving. The GT-R resumed still in the lead. On lap 69 the GIO GT-R with Rohan Onslow pitted for a pad change, he resumed in 7th place after a 52 second stop. The Gibson team started planning a rear brake pad change they had initially planned to change only the front pads, but got the pads ready for the next stop. The rear pads took much longer to change than the fronts. Out in front, Richards was in cruise mode. The gap back to Glen Seton was around the two minute mark. Seton was pushing his Sierra very hard, but Jim was able to respond easily matching the 2m 19's that Seton was pulling. Jim potentially could go 2 seconds a lap quicker if needed.

The GIO GT-R had a minor incident it nudged a Commodore, breaking the left front headlight. Jim bought the leading GT-R into the pits on lap 95. The stop went to plan, the team changing brake pads on all four wheels, with Skaife back out in 55 seconds still in the lead.

By lap 122, Skaife held a lead of 3m 22 seconds back to the Percy / Grice Commodore. Lap 123 and another pit stop for the GT-R. This time there was no pad change, and Jim Richards was back out with a fresh set of tyres and a full load of fuel, and still in the lead. Skaife put his helmet back on five minutes later and jumped into the second GT-R of Price / Waldon to try and bring it up into the top ten from 13th position. Skaife absolutely wrung the neck of the GT-R, recording the fastest lap of the race (2m 14.50s). He had set fastest lap in the lead car earlier (2m 16.60s) and was under that lap time for 15 of the 17 laps he did before the GT-R broke a rear half shaft and retired.

The GIO GT-R was up to third on the road by now, the leading Fords of Johnson and Seton had either expired or were close to expiring. The car came into the pits for it's final stop, no brake pad change this time, Gibbs staying in the car to the finish. The car rejoined in 3rd position. 14 laps before the end, Jim pitted the lead GT-R for the last time, taking tyres and fuel only. The pit crew cheered as he left the pits, starting the victory celebrations early.

On lap 156 the GIO GT-R developed a misfire causing it to backfire up mountain straight. They still had a 1 minute lead over the 4th placed car behind them. The misfire got worse the GIO team were in the pit next to the Gibson team one pit was starting to celebrate, and the other were willing their ailing car on. Moffat gave his 4th placed car the instruction to attempt to overtake the GIO car. Gibbs was able to lap in the 2m 28s region, just enough to maintain his lead over the Moffat Sierra to the end of the race.

Jim took the flag making the first outright victory for a Japanese car at Bathurst. Grice crossed the finish line 2 minutes 30 seconds later, in his speech on the podium he said "The Datsun was too good for us!" Mark Gibbs bought the misfiring GIO GT-R in for third place with the Moffat team Sierra in 4th (which was excluded after post race scrutinising)

In the background during the Bathurst race week, there were moves being made about the rules for 1993. Because of the economic situation and the ever increasing costs of running a Group A car, CAMS had moved to develop a new formula for Australia's leading category. The aim of the category was to provide close racing with a substantially lower cost than the current Group A scheme.

It was eventually decided that the new formula would revolve around the Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon. At the time Australia lacked the technology to develop 2 litre engines like those used in the British Touring Car Championship, and it was decided that turbos were too costly for many teams to run. Both the Sierra RS500 and Skyline GT-R were costing around AU$500,000 for a competitive car. That kind of cost was well beyond most of the privateer teams. The v8 was the cheapest option to develop and race in Australia.

Holden and Ford took the unprecedented step of releasing a joint letter to CAMS during Bathurst telling them to get their act together and set the rules for 1993, or Holden and Ford would consider other forms of racing (NASCAR / AUSCAR).
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Old 05-21-2004, 08:25 PM   #8
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Re: Overhyped, and Basterdised!

Wicked couple of posts SkyUSA!

Care to name any sources?
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Old 05-21-2004, 10:45 PM   #9
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one of the history of the gtr i only need to know is that it got banned in group A racing becuz it ate all cars like a bad habit, then they added weight and all that to weaken it, it still ate em for dessert. that pretty much sums it up for a bit of the gtr. history goes on, but skylineusa put some on there. couldnt read it all, didnt feel like it, i feel i know enough already.
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Old 06-23-2004, 04:46 AM   #10
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Re: A little R32 GTR history

good,story now i can sleep good at night knowing i bought a bnr32....thanks usasklyline
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Old 06-23-2004, 05:13 AM   #11
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Re: A little R32 GTR history

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Old 06-23-2004, 05:40 AM   #12
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Re: Re: A little R32 GTR history

damn, got a cliff notes version?
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Old 06-23-2004, 05:46 AM   #13
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Re: A little R32 GTR history

http://www.overflow.250x.com/Obakemono%20Downunder.html

compiled by a friend.

Graeme Williams from Skylinesdownunder
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Old 01-30-2006, 02:53 AM   #14
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Re: A little R32 GTR history

Wow, if some how I end up writing a paper about a cars history, I'm putting this forum down as a reference. Great job SkylineUSA
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:30 AM   #15
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Re: A little R32 GTR history

Great job skylineUSA!

That was an great amount of information right there. Also I have some cool trivia about the R32 GT-R.

1. The R32 placed a time of 8:22 on the Nurburing from Best Motoring, a japanese auto magazine that took it on the limits back in the 90's, when the 'ring' was still restricted for only German cars.

2. Though the 2.6L RB26 isn't as fast as the supercars of the 90's in stock form, the R32's high rev, handling from the ATESSA-ETS can keep up with most of the Ferrari's, Lamborgini's and Porsche's on a curcuit track with or without engine modifcation.

3. I also was born when this impressive machine came out! Cause I was born in late July around entering August the time when the car came into production.

I hoped you like the additional info.
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