Nismo Ring GT-R: Not So Fast

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
nismo ring gt r not so fast

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.

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  • Kosmo Kosmo on Nov 22, 2013

    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.

  • CAMeyer CAMeyer on Nov 22, 2013

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

  • 56m65711446 Well, I had a suburban auto repair shop in those days.
  • Dukeisduke Yikes - reading the recall info from NHTSA, this sounds like the Hyundai/Kia 2.4l Theta II "engine fire" recall, since it involves an engine block or oil pan "breach", so basically, throwing a rod:"Description of the Safety Risk : Engine oil and/or fuel vapor that accumulates near a sufficiently hot surface, below the combustion initiation flame speed, may ignite resulting in an under hood fire, and increasing the risk of injury. Description of the Cause :Isolated engine manufacturing issues have resulted in 2.5L HEV/PHEV engine failures involving engine block or oil pan breach. In the event of an engine block or oil pan breach, the HEV/PHEV system continues to propel the vehicle allowing the customer to continue to drive the vehicle. As the customer continues to drive after a block breach, oil and/or fuel vapor continues to be expelled and accumulates near ignition sources, primarily expected to be the exhaust system. Identification of Any Warning that can Occur :Engine failure is expected to produce loud noises (example: metal-to-metal clank) audible to the vehicle’s occupants. An engine failure will also result in a reduction in engine torque. In Owner Letters mailed to customers, Ford will advise customers to safely park and shut off the engine as promptly as possible upon hearing unexpected engine noises, after experiencing an unexpected torque reduction, or if smoke is observed emanating from the engine compartment."
  • Dukeisduke In an ideal world, cars would be inspected in the way the MoT in the UK does it, or the TÜV in Germany. But realistically, a lot of people can't afford to keep their cars to such a high standard since they need them for work, and widespread public transit isn't a thing here.I would like the inspections to stick around (I've lived in Texas all my life, and annual inspections have always been a thing), but there's so much cheating going on (and more and more people don't bother to get their cars inspected or registration renewed), so without rigorous enforcement (which is basically a cop noticing your windshield sticker is out of date, or pulling you over for an equipment violation), there's no real point anymore.
  • Zipper69 Arriving in Florida from Europe and finding ZERO inspection procedures I envisioned roads crawling with wrecks held together with baling wire, duct tape and prayer.Such proved NOT to be the case, plenty of 20-30 year old cars and trucks around but clearly "unsafe at any speed" vehicles are few and far between.Could this be because the median age here is 95, so a lot of low mileage vehicles keep entering the market as the owners expire?
  • Zipper69 At the heart of GM’s resistance to improving the safety of its fuel systems was a cost benefit analysis done by Edward Ivey which concluded that it was not cost effective for GM to spend more than $2.20 per vehicle to prevent a fire death. When deposed about his cost benefit analysis, Mr. Ivey was asked whether he could identify a more hazardous location for the fuel tank on a GM pickup than outside the frame. Mr. Ivey responded, “Well yes…You could put in on the front bumper.”