By on November 21, 2013

skyline

If you have an Internet connection and an interest in automobiles, you’ve no doubt heard about the 7:08 ‘Ring time claimed for the new Nismo GT-R. Nissan’s in the middle of putting on a trackday/party for compliant media in Japan right now for the purpose of celebrating said time, but one of the journalists who attended turned out to not be quite as compliant as the company might wish.


The Pistonheads folks asked for details on the modifications to the ‘Ring-time GT-R over and above the standard Nismo GT-R. They were told that

The Time Attack car, as Nissan refers to it, car had bigger spoilers for more downforce, different dampers and brake pads, bucket seats that contributed to a significant 50kg weight saving and a new ECU map. Together those modifications could count for several seconds around the ‘ring, but perhaps even more significantly the car used to set the time had been tuned specifically for the Nordschleife, as NISMO’s engineers confess.

Let’s start off by giving Nissan some props: I don’t see the words “roll cage” anywhere in the list of mods. A good cage, along with a seam weld, massively improves grip and handling, which is why you almost always see some sort of cage in the General Motors ‘Ring videos. Nor should a change in brake pads be counted against Nissan, as it’s almost impossible to make a brake pad for large fixed calipers that is both useful on-track and not completely misery-inducing during the daily drive. (Pagid Orange pads are some of the most famous offenders among the Porsche trackday crowd, being absolutely brilliant at operating temperature but shockingly loud and obnoxious in a restaurant drive-through.)

The rest of the stuff probably matters, in this order: The 110-lb weight loss isn’t much in the context of a GT-R but it’s worth a few seconds. The additional aero must have been nice, but the ‘Ring is one of those tracks where having big wings for cornering speed just kills you when it’s time to go fast down the long straights. I’ve long suspected that a Viper ACR with a drag-reduction system in the rear wing a la Chaparral or modern F1 would be a seven-minute-flat car. The custom damping is hugely helpful and it’s one of the reasons that Continental Challenge cars are so much faster than NASA PT racers to the same spec.

Now for the big one: ECU tune. One of the most important parts of the NISMO GT-R package is the larger turbochargers. A competent ECU tune with larger turbochargers can easily yield over eight hundred horsepower, even with stock engine internals. If you happen to own the engine factory, you can push even harder and pop a couple of blocks in the process if you need to.

Does any of this matter? Not really — but it should remind everyone involved that the so-called ‘Ring record isn’t a real record, it isn’t set under controlled conditions, and when all the dust settles it’s little more than a marketing exercise. You already know that, so we’ll call it a day and keep this article short enough that you should have been able to read it in well under seven minutes and eight seconds.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

38 Comments on “Nismo Ring GT-R: Not So Fast...”


  • avatar
    imag

    All that is true, but the fact is that they managed to get a car based upon a sedan platform released in 2001 to run within 11 seconds of Porsche’s ultimate in modern engineering, a dedicated supercar, which ran complete with the $84K Weissach Package. I have a feeling the Porsche was a tiny bit optimized for the ‘ring as well.

    And the GT-R would absolutely crush the 918 on lap 2. It would likely see off the P1 and the LaFerrari on a two lap run as well. No matter how you slice it, that’s impressive.

    • 0 avatar
      Carzzi

      Ah, but then, the Porch is the ultimate evolution of an ‘ass-engined Nazi slot car’, as PJ O’Rourke famously described it — itself derived from the car Gordon Murray hates, the Beetle.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        I could see the architecture case for the 911, although the many platforms between it and even the original 911 make it a really long stretch. The Nissan, on the other hand, still shares hardpoints with Infiniti sedans.

        The 918 is another category altogether, considering that it is a model-specific mid-engine carbon fiber chassis. That Beetle is long gone.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The PM platform is very, very, very different from the FM platform. You might as well call a JGTC GT-R a “lightly modded G35 coupe”.

      And it’s still a very dull drive.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    The point is, that your as stock delivered vehicle, is not going to come close to those times posted by the optimized ‘Ring’ vehicles. It is all marketing hype, but it works and lets us know the potential of a given vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Hey, I would be the first to line up for real production car races, complete with homologation requirements.

      Unfortunately, the manufacturers have realized that the ring allows each of them to create their own spotlight, while hiding all the breakdowns/slow laps/recharging issues/etc. A race would make the majority of them look bad, and they can’t have that.

      Shame.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        I’m right there with you. I would even champion NASCAR returning to atleast stripped production vehicles instead of uniform wrappers with uniform skeletons.

        But lets be honest, the GT-R and the rest are playing in the stratosphere, it’s questionable if Nissan turns a major profit on the program (the base infiniti cars keep the design profitable but actual GT-R sales maybe doubtful). This is more than marketing hype, this is genuine ego playing out on the grand stage.

  • avatar
    twotone

    This is turning into a manufacturer’s ring-swinging contest. Who cares if one car is 10 seconds faster than another on the ring? I don’t drive the ring on my commute to work (wish I did, however). Most super car buyers care more about how they look parked in front of the club or restaurant. Valets put more miles on most of these cars than the owners.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      You could really say that about any performance car stat.

      To me, I would much rather have a performance car that is enjoyable and thrilling to drive than one that hits certain numbers. Cars like the GT-R, the P1, etc., do not seem to me like they would actually be as much fun, most of the time, as something like a Caterham or a Lotus.

      But it’s the internet, and numbers matter. And people pay a lot for bragging rights, despite the fact that any track day will reveal that most of the time, the driver matters much more than the car.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        Reg; “do not seem to me like they would actually be as much fun as Caterham or a Lotus.” Your on the money with that comment, especially a Sevenesque with LS power.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “…I would much rather have a performance car that is enjoyable and thrilling to drive…”

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s how you feel before you drive the car, the excitement and anticipation. It’s how you connect to the car when driving. The clic clac engagement of the shifter, the various engine, intake, and exhaust sounds and the way the seat fits your body. It’s how you feel after driving. The way you throw a look back over your shoulder and crack a smile.

      If I’m making a living by racing then I’d want the fastest car available. The rub is the fastest car won’t be on a showroom floor.

      The ultimate speed thing is fine. I understand it but for me its more about feel.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      Because racecar.

      Seriously, every time I’ve seen a GT-R in person it has a small crowd of teenagers and twenty-somethings gathered admiringly around it. They know the numbers by heart and have raced the car on their XBoxes and Play Stations for years. A new ‘ring record continues the mystique, even if the chances of any of these youngsters ever buying one in their lifetimes is about zero, it still helps promote the brand. Maybe it will prompt the sale of NISMO 370Z or a Sentra SE-R.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        I actually wonder if Nissan isn’t playing the long game correctly with the GT-R.

        Old rich guys buy (highly profitable) Porsches because they watched them win when they were young. Unfortunately, ring times are kind of a modern proxy for Le Mans. If Nissan keeps this up for a generation, there will be old rich guys for whom the GT-R is the benchmark.

        Honda made the mistake with the NSX of building a great car and then letting it die on the vine. If they had kept upgrading the NSX, they might be able to get Porsche margins and volume by now. Nissan, on the other hand, is following Porsche’s lead, methodically upgrading the car, in order to build a pedigree outside Japan. It takes a long time to get that going. I hope it works out for them.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I don’t think Porsche’s racing pedigree is a huge part of its appeal. The cars are just damn cool and the brand is strong. GT-R has neither. Without its blistering performance it has nothing.

          • 0 avatar
            luvmyv8

            I have to partially disagree here. True enough, the GT-R doesn’t quite have the cache of a 911. I’m also not a fan of the R35 GT-R itself.

            In America, true enough, the GT-R doesn’t have the history here, there’s an interesting side note with MotoRex and the fed’s, but that’s for a different time and conversation.

            I’m glad Jack posted that particular picture for this article. That car pictured is a Prince Skyline. This was before Nissan acquired Prince and the Skyline model. It was ’63-’65, don’t remember exactly, but Prince modified that Skyline and created the Skyline GT-B. That humble little sedan gave Porsche fits in the Japanese Grand Prix. They extended the nose slightly to fit in a 2.0L DOHC I-6 and a 5 speed manual transmission. Eventually Nissan acquired prince so the Skyline officially became a Nissan model.

            In 1969, Nissan released another version of the Skyline; the GT-R. Again a humble looking 4 door sedan. Except it had a 160hp, 2.0L DOHC 24v, 3 carb’d I-6, coupled to a 5 speed manual sending power to the rear semi trailing arm suspension. This GT-R dominated races up until ’73 when the Mazda RX-3 went racing. The GT-R pretty much kept the same hardware but changed the body so it somewhat resembled a scaled down Dodge Challenger, then after the GT-R went away due to the oil crisis. Though they were toned down, other Skyline models kept the performance torch lit; the Skyline 2000GT Turbo, the lovely DR30 Turbo RS with a powerful turbo 4 CYLINDER instead of a 6 cylinder and the R31 GTS-R with a beefed up RB20DET.

            Then Nissan really wanted to smack around Porsche in ’89. It did so and much more with the reborn Skyline GT-R, the BNR32. It had a ‘”280″ hp 2.6L DOHC Twin Turbo I6, the RB26DETT; though in reality it made 320 hp, it had the ATESSA ETS PRO AWD, Super HICAS 4 wheel steering. In reality, this GT-R was designed to beat Porches, and it did. So dominant in racing this car was that it earned the nickname ‘Godzilla’. This car racked up the wins until sanctioning bodies eventually banned it, sort of like the Mopar wing cars in NASCAR. The GT-R evolved for 2 more generations as a Skyline; the R33 and R34 GT-R’s. Finally Nissan spun off the GT-R to be it’s own model (the R35) and the Skyline became more of a personal luxury car and has remained so since.

            So in short, outside of America, with due exception to the ones that know, that little red ‘R’ means quite a bit.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            The Japanese know all that. Other markets much less so. In Australia, the R32 Godzilla episode is remembered for what it did to Group A. After that, it was just Option videos and video games, although you could get the used cars.

            In Europe, other than England, it was only videos and video games, and in England, it was only available used, like Australia.

            The GT-R legend is now an internet thing, and a youth thing. The long game referred to is the 14-30 crowd that played Gran Turismo, saw the youtube videos, and gets that GT-R = Really damn fast.

            But they won’t be in the market to buy a GT-R until perhaps the R36 or R37 really. It’s a very long game, in that it will take that long to work up the prestige. But that prestige may never equal Porsche, and Nissan may be ok with that.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    So they sent a ringer to the ‘ring. Whatever keeps the manufacturers battling each other and pumping out more power. I’d like to see a new version of the Viper ACR get out there and beat that 7:08.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      I would like to see the ACR that set the “record” last time follow Jack’s advise and run a cleaner body. Even if it doesn’t do seven flat it would be funny to see it run a time quicker than the Nismo.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    Here’s how we solve this “problem”: turn Vettel loose in the Red Bull F1 car. Whatever time he sets is the ‘ring record. The rest can then proceed to argue about who’s in second place . . . . .

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Under that notion than the GT-R is somewhere down the list under a few dozen superbikes. The truly amazing riders and there Moto GP cycles can lap the GT-R over the course of 3-4 laps. Even the best F1 cars would probably fall behind the top-10 bikes in the time attack ratings. So it isn’t the fastest run on the track ever, but in its narrow class of mostly production car it is #1 for now.

      • 0 avatar
        racingmaniac

        F1 cars slower than MotoGP bike? Since when?

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          F1 cars don’t have much top end speed. Mainly due to gearing and aero being optimized for tracks that are all about handing. CRASHCAR and IRL (Indy Cars) are faster. Typical top end for F1 is 190-200, where has IRL cars hit 220-230. Maybe a MotoGP fan can speak to their speeds but their small size becomes a major aero advantage when it comes to top end.

          • 0 avatar
            racingmaniac

            Top speed sure, but around a track? MotoGP car is not faster than a F1 car around a race track, its not faster than a LMP car….

          • 0 avatar
            Waterview

            The notion of bringing MotoGP bikes into the equation is interesting. Not sure which is actually faster (another test for another track on another day), but it would be cool as hell to see Vettel lapping the ‘ring in the RB1.

          • 0 avatar
            Number6

            Four tires/tyres and wings will always beat two skinny tires, no matter what the top end speed is. In the mid 90s, F1 cars in the wet ran comparable times w/bikes on dry pavement.

        • 0 avatar
          Hogun

          F1 cars lap tracks faster than MotoGP bikes:
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/motogp/17486184
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4g4RxOl39B4

          Over a long track like the ‘Ring, the MotoGP bike would get wrecked by an F1 car.

          • 0 avatar
            racingmaniac

            MotoGP pole this year around Laguna Seca would put it only on the front row of the GT grid of the ALMS race there. It will be slower than all the PC, P2 and P1 cars(bar Delta Wing)
            http://www.alms.com/results/qualifying?year%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=2013&race=12001
            http://www.motogp.com/en/Results+Statistics/2013/USA

            A 2003 F1 car holds the unofficial record at the track on demonstration tires around 1:05..
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_Raceway_Laguna_Seca

      • 0 avatar
        AGD

        You are joking, right ?

        Season 2013
        Catalunya MotoGP Fastest Lap: Lap: 3 MARQUEZ M. 1’42.552 165.9 Km/h
        FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.217

        Hertz British Grand Prix MotoGP Fastest Lap: Lap: 6 PEDROSA D. 2’01.941 174.1 Km/h
        FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:33.401

        Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle GP Fastest Lap: Lap: 2 MARQUEZ M. 2’01.415 164.5 Km/h
        FORMULA 1 PETRONAS MALAYSIA GRAND PRIX Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.199

  • avatar
    jfranci3

    You’re greatly exaggerating the powers of cages on a modern car and the drag associated with road sized aero devices. This is software, race gas, lowering the car to non road levels, and tires.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Yup, a 45 degree lean angle is 1.0g, the tangent of the angle. A 60 degree lean equates to 1.73g. Bikes have a problem with cornering speed compared to a car, I can see it from the extreme angles they lean over even on the twisty road I live on.

    A Formula One car at speed can corner at 3.5 or 4g, which works out at least 40% quicker than a MotoGP. No contest.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    When will they make an R35 GT-R that’s fun and memorable to drive?

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    “….the so-called ‘Ring record isn’t a real record, it isn’t set under controlled conditions, and when all the dust settles it’s little more than a marketing exercise.”

    Everybody’s ‘Ring performance is a marketing exercise.

    ——————-

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I want to see a ring video with the Skyline pictured, with Jack behind the wheel.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Jack, you are incorrect in the claim that GM uses roll cages to improve performance. GM safety protocol requires a roll cage for any high speed testing, anywhere. The structural stiffness added is likely more than offset by the weight disadvantage. The Nismo, unlike the GM cars with added safety equipment, is lighter than stock. Its performance is impressive, none the less, but not comparable to stock powertrain vehicles.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    For a change, I think JB has gone too easy. If it’s a manufacturer’s contest of cars for sale to the general public, the cars should be dead stock except for safety items.

    I’m no professional racer, but I’d say that limits things to brakes, roll cages, seats, and harnesses.

  • avatar
    CAMeyer

    This story would be more interesting if this Gismo NT-R or whatever it is looked like the car in the picture.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India