By on February 18, 2012

The early 90s were tough times. Stock markets had crashed, real estate bubbles had popped, budgets were slashed.  The fabled  Daytona 24 hours endurance race survived (barely) with Rolex as a sponsor.

In 1992, the field was down to 49 cars, one of them a newcomer from Japan, Number 23, fielded by Nissan’s Nismo (Nissan Motorsports International) factory team.

Nismo brought its prototype R91CP car, with Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino, and Toshio Suzuki as drivers. Only Hasemi had U.S. driving experience.

After the second lap, number 23 took the lead, and never surrendered it. The only car that came close to being a challenge, the Porsche, broke down in the morning of the second day.

The team credited most of its wins not to engine or driving, but to its headlights. Technical Chief Kunihiko Kakimoto remembers:

“These HID headlights contributed greatly to the victory. We co-developed these with our supplier Ichikoh, which had very good technology. There were many competitors and other suppliers developing HID headlights, but Ichikoh had one of the best in terms of performance and reliability.”

After the race, Nissan was approached by second-placed Jaguar. They wanted to buy the HID headlights, and were ready to pay as much as Nissan wanted.

The Daytona beach nearly did cost Nissan the victory. Sand had clogged up the radiator and the engine was overheating. Washing off the sand did not do it. Nissan had so much of a lead time that someone could be dispatched to the store, detergent was bought, and the sand was removed.

When the checkered flag came down, Nissan No.23 was nine laps ahead of the Jaguar XJR-12, it had done a record 762 laps at an average speed of nearly 113 miles per hour and over 2,700 miles. Never again in the history of the Rolex 24 had a winning team completed as many laps.

R91CP Specifications

Overall length / width / height: 4,800/1,990/1,100mm

Wheelbase: 2,795mm

Tread (front/rear): 1,600/1,560mm

Curb weight: Over 930kg

Engine: VRH35Z (V8, DOHC), 3,496cc

Engine Max. power: Over 500kW (680PS)/7,200rpm

Engine Max. torque: Over 784Nm (80.0kgm)/5,200rpm

Engine Turbocharger: IHI twin turbo

Transmission: VGC (5-speed)

Suspension: Double wishbone (front & rear)

Brakes: 14in. carbon (front & rear)

Tires (wheels)(front): 25.5×12.0x17 (13Jx17)

Tires(wheels)(rear): 28.5×14.5×18 (15Jx18)

Tires by Goodyear

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6 Comments on “When A Nissan Won The Daytona 24 Hours...”

  • avatar

    Nissan have just signed up to become the 3rd manufacturer in the Australian V8 Supercar championship in 2013. Maybe they are back as racers!! They last competed there when they won Bathurst in 91 and ’92 with a turbo Skyline affectionately known as “Godzilla”.

  • avatar

    Gotta say, that’s pretty cool.

  • avatar

    Great story. It’s a shame neither this program nor the beautiful R390 GT1 of the late 90’s ever saw Le Mans glory. Maybe Nissan will get tired of sitting around in LMP2 while (this year) we see entries from Toyota, Honda, and Mazda, battling it out for the overall win in LMP1 (or at least second best after the Audis). Also a shame to see the Rolex having become a shadow of its former self, and isolated from the global racing community thanks to the hard nosed don’t way well with others attitude of the France family.

  • avatar

    Nissan should mount an attack on Le Mans… its one of those things that sticks in the craw of the Japanese… 1993 the Mazda 787b did it an that was it… Toyota couldn’t do it… Nissan tried in the past… it’s time… and I think its a matter of Franco/Nipponese pride being Renault/Nissan… they certainly have enough money…

  • avatar

    Meh, Nissan only won after Mazda started to implode financially and pulled out. Mazda OWNED the 24 Hours of Daytona.

  • avatar

    Meh, Nissan only won after Mazda started to implode financially and pulled out. Mazda OWNED the 24 Hours of Daytona in the 1980s with the RX-7.

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