The Iconic Series: BNR32
Continuing on from our post of the HR31, today we highlight the R32. Little argument can be made against how legendary the chassis is. Racing success in multiple series' earned the R32 and subsequent Nissan GTR models the nickname Godzilla. With Nissan reverting back to the GT-R nameplate, the engineers knew that their developments would have to be worthy of the badging it was equipped with.
The R32 won the fanship of enthusiasts by proving it’s capabilities on pavement. Though there are abundance of legendary R32s from race teams and tuning companies, today we focus on the notorious dominance in the Australian Touring Car Championship in the 1991 and 1992 seasons.
To meet Group A homologation rules, Nissan produced 560 (500 for the road, 60 for racing) NISMO R32 GT-Rs. The NISMO trim featured intercooler cooling ducts, a front lip spoiler, a rear ducktail spoiler under the rear wing, and steel turbo compressor wheels for higher boost capabilities. The removal of the ABS, rear windshield wiper, air conditioning, and intercooler mesh were also notable changes from the regular GTRs. Initially, the R32's campaign in ATCC consisted of heavily NISMO developed cars. But as Gibson Motorsport found itself owing a lot of money to NISMO, they started producing their own race parts. Debuting late in the 1990 season, the car composed of half Japanese and half Australian development. By the beginning of the 1991 season, the majority of the car consisted of Australian developed parts, including a unique ATTESA ET-S AWD system, a dry-break fuel system, and Hollinger gearbox. By the end of the Gibson spec R32’s development only the body shell, engine block, and front and rear cross members were built by NISMO.
In Japan, across four seasons of the All Japan Touring Car Championship, the R32 GTR won all 29 of 29 race starts. While the campaign in Australia wasn’t as successful in terms of race conversions, the R32 was feared by it’s competitors in it’s first full season in 1991, Jim Richards and Mark Skaife behind the wheels of R32s finished the championship 1 and 2. With an approximate 600hp and a RWD-biased AWD system, the R32 dominated the field. This eventually led to additions of a turbo-boost-restricting pop-valve (limiting power to about 470hp), weight ballast, and mandated skinnier tires for the 1992 season. Despite losing overall performance, the GTR was still a forced to be reckoned with and gave Mark Skaife his first ATCC overall championship win.
The Gibson Motorsport R32 almost did not make it to the 1992 Bathurst 1000 race. Gibson believed that they would be uncompetitive given the restrictions dealt to the cars. A late decision to enter the cars was made and it resulted in the most controversial race end in Bathurst history. Faced with consistent rainfall, the R32 managed to stay in the lead but was not able to maintain a big lead due to reoccurring safety cars. Towards the end of the race, the wet track proved too much the GTR. The car hydroplaned into a wall, leaving it to limp on three wheels before hitting other crashed cars on the long Conrod Straight. The second placed runner was able to inherit the lead and crossed the finish line with red flags waving. The race officials had called the race and backdated the race one lap, giving the GTR the win.
With Group 3A regulations adopted by the ATCC for the 1993 season, the R32 was outlawed for the series. With Nissan not interested in campaigning any of their other production cars, Nissan pulled out of racing in ATCC. While GTRs were not campaigned in Australia, a new generation of race car was on its way. Check back tomorrow for our highlight on the next legendary GTR to hit the race track…