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RE: Driven: Nissan GT-R GT1 Racer

RE: Driven: Nissan GT-R GT1 Racer

Monday 7th November 2011

Driven: Nissan GT-R GT1 Racer

They're hoping to clinch the GT1 World Championship this weekend, and for some reason they let Riggers have a go in one




One of the problems with this job (and I freely admit that there aren't that many) is that you can't simply say that 'words can't describe' what something is like. Because that's exactly what we have to do.

And yet I'm sitting here contemplating how to portray what it's like to drive a c. £750k, 650bhp GT1 race car around Silverstone. And words can't describe the experience...


I wrote those words minutes after testing the frankly extraordinary Sumo Power Nissan GT-R GT1 and, although it has been a few months since I drive Peter Dumbreck and Michael Krumm's company car, I still don't know what to write.

In fact, that's been one of the main reasons behind dawdling for so long over getting the story written. But this weekend is the last round of the GT1 World championship, and the number 23 JRM Nissan (now in the hands of Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr), has a shot at helping Nissan clinch both the drivers' and teams' championships, so it seemed a fine time to attempt it.

The first thing you notice as you clamber into the cockpit is how intimidating everything seems. Aside from a fairly stern lecture from team principal Andy Barnes, along the lines of "this is three-quarters of a million quid of racing car, so do what we say and please bring it back in one piece", there are knobs, dials, switches, tubes and bare metal everywhere, leaving you in no doubt that this is a tool for going fast in, not a plaything to flatter your driving.


Having said that, the thoroughly affable Jamie Campbell-Walter, who drives the other Sumo Power GT-R with David Brabham, is rather more relaxed (possibly because this one's not his race car). "You actually have to be quite brutal with it - especially the gearchange - which really doesn't respond to half-hearted tugs at low revs."

He's right. Part of the deal for getting to drive this car is, of all things, to do some tracking driving for the Gadget Show (they were testing HD cameras, apparently), so I have to spend a certain amount of trundling behind the camera car with the transmission whining, chuntering and jerking away, before being allowed to give the car its head.

And boy is it quick. Put some proper revs into the big V8, pull back and forth on the stick-shift sequential with a bit of verve when the shift lights wink (no fancy paddles here - GT1 is designed to be old-school), and the GT-R stops being a grumbling, coughing scary thing and becomes something that scares largely because of its epic pace.


But it's a surprisingly approachable beast. That V8 might have its origins in the Titan pick-up truck, and its 650bhp runs through the rear wheels only (and with no traction control or ABS), but it feels neither overly agricultural nor unapproachably highly strung. In fact it feels quite friendly, almost as though it's been designed for ham-fists such as me...

It has bags more grip than I have balls, relentless, eye-watering straight-line shove and brakes that seem to work magic, once they're warm and once you've learned to hit them hard enough - this is not a car that responds to delicate inputs. It is, in short brilliant.

Inevitably (of course) I get carried away, lulled into a false sense of security by the apparently forgiving handling, and head into the left hander by the pits with more speed than is sensible and a line that is definitely stupid. The big Nissan reminds me then that it is a heavy, fast GT car - not a lightweight special. I got it slowed down and around the corner, but only just. This is definitely a car you need to be a pro to get the best from. Jamie reckons it's actually quite like the TVR Tuscans he used to race - a bit of a hot rod - albeit rather more polished in its behaviour.


Sadly, after only three fast laps my time with a genuinely top-line racing car is over and I reluctantly trundle back into the pits, heart racing, eyes on stalks and more or less unable to put a sentence together.

So what conclusions can I draw from what must undoubtedly be one of the most exhilarating, mind-blowing drives I will ever experience? Firstly, I have infinite respect for the likes of proper pros such as David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter, not merely for their ability to extract 100 per cent from a 650bhp car with zero driver aids, but also for their capacity to extract themselves from the car after a test session or race stint and not be gibbering, grinning, idiotic wrecks.

Oh, and sadly I have also fallen a little out of love with the roadgoing version of the GT-R - because if it hasn't got a 5.5-litre V8, slick tyres and rear-wheel drive it just won't feel quite right...

You can follow the progress of the Nissans at the Lago Potrero de los Funes circuit in Argentina with live coverage on: www.gt1world.com/gt1tv

Author
Discussion

Stew2000

Original Poster:

2,776 posts

103 months

Friday 4th November 2011
quotequote all
I now envy you!

Zed Ed

823 posts

108 months

Friday 4th November 2011
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Did a lap or 2 of Silverstone with JC-W at the wheel last week

Fantastic.

Godzilla

2,026 posts

174 months

Friday 4th November 2011
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You jammy, jammy b@stard!

When's the episode of Gadget Show being aired or has it already been?

Michael Krumm took me for a passenger lap around Silverstone GP last week in a road GT-R. Simply astonishing car control and a really nice guy.
Good luck to him and the rest of the JRM team for the championship Finale this weekend.

Is it only online? Bloomberg showed the earlier rounds but don't list the finale!

Tonto

2,983 posts

173 months

Friday 4th November 2011
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I have the 'soft' road version. Would love to have a blast in a GT1.

burwoodman

8,032 posts

171 months

Friday 4th November 2011
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I drove the road car last week on a track-honestly gave me motion sickness, such was the grip and acceleration. Made the F430 seem rather slow.
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obscene

4,895 posts

110 months

Friday 4th November 2011
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Epic thumbup

RenesisEvo

3,023 posts

144 months

Friday 4th November 2011
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Godzilla said:
When's the episode of Gadget Show being aired or has it already been?
It was aired a couple of weeks ago I believe, never crossed my mind someone from PH Towers might be behind the wheel!

Riggers

1,851 posts

103 months

Saturday 5th November 2011
quotequote all
RenesisEvo said:
Godzilla said:
When's the episode of Gadget Show being aired or has it already been?
It was aired a couple of weeks ago I believe, never crossed my mind someone from PH Towers might be behind the wheel!
We get eeeeverywhere biglaugh

arkenphel

355 posts

130 months

Saturday 5th November 2011
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"It has bags more grip than I have balls..."

Quote of the year for me, this.smile

Godzilla

2,026 posts

174 months

Saturday 5th November 2011
quotequote all
Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr have put it on pole for the qualifying race of the Finale later today!

Fingers crossed for both drivers and team GT1 Championship wins this year.

soad

28,169 posts

101 months

Saturday 5th November 2011
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Good read, car looks a beast! biggrin

Ipelm

521 posts

117 months

Sunday 6th November 2011
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Krumm and Luhr have been mighty this season, congrats to them for winning the World Drivers Championship, the class team of the field although it must be said that the Hexis Aston pit team were the best, pity that their drivers were not.

It must be said though that as a spectator show the series was ruined by sucess ballast: The cars all had circuits that they were good at and then much less good at. As a result there were lots of different winners but largely processional racing. This I think happened because having arrived at a given circuit if a car went well then went to a less suitable circuit it had to run PLUS success ballast and wasnt competitive. At that circuit another team did well but then hit the same problem and so on and so forth. Of course this means that a team able to be consistent was champion, which is all well and good except that the lifeblood of our sport is exciting racing and that has to come at each individual race.

Success ballast is fine for GT3 because this is a largely businessmans hobby series designed to bring some employment for professional racers coaching and racing with these people......but for a World Championship, success ballast is no way suitable. Its hard to see GT racing becoming the TV or spectator success it needs to be, because ultimately sponsors need large audiences to justify large INVESTMENTS. GT1 has failed because of this.

PhillipM

5,233 posts

114 months

Sunday 6th November 2011
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Ipelm said:
PLUS success ballast and wasnt competitive.
What, you mean adding more weight doesn't give the car more cornering grip?
Damn, who'd've thought it? wink

tail slide

2,116 posts

172 months

Sunday 6th November 2011
quotequote all
Ipelm said:
Success ballast is fine for GT3 because this is a largely businessmans hobby series designed to bring some employment for professional racers coaching and racing with these people......but for a World Championship, success ballast is no way suitable. Its hard to see GT racing becoming the TV or spectator success it needs to be, because ultimately sponsors need large audiences to justify large INVESTMENTS. GT1 has failed because of this.
Agreed.

There's no success ballast in the highest-rolling F1 or WRC Champs for a good reason, or other top sports, as the big crowds and therefore big advertisers are attracted to seeing real competition between equals - and how the technical differences in cars are played out on different circuits, and weather conditions.

Unless the Championship organisers prefer the Worldwide Wrestling Federation's marketing strategy as a model... biggrin

cliffie

172 posts

143 months

Monday 7th November 2011
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It is official, I hate you Riggers and you smell really bad.

seefarr

464 posts

111 months

Monday 7th November 2011
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Gadget Show:

http://fwd.channel5.com/gadget-show/videos/jon-tes...

Riggers' bit (I assume) starts at 3:20. That car sounds very good but was that a spin I saw right at the end?!

43034

2,680 posts

93 months

Monday 7th November 2011
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How much does it weigh?

Stew2000

Original Poster:

2,776 posts

103 months

Monday 7th November 2011
quotequote all
Looked more like a handbrake than a spin.

ArosaMike

1,612 posts

136 months

Monday 7th November 2011
quotequote all
Matt....I effing hate you biggrin Nice what a bit of Caterham racing can do for a Journo's career path eh wink

Godzilla

2,026 posts

174 months

Monday 7th November 2011
quotequote all
seefarr said:
Gadget Show:

http://fwd.channel5.com/gadget-show/videos/jon-tes...

Riggers' bit (I assume) starts at 3:20. That car sounds very good but was that a spin I saw right at the end?!
Definitely! Is that why there is no link to the Gadget Show vid from the main article? wink