Friday, September 22, 2017

Why is Nissan Still Testing the R34 at the Nürburgring?

If you are a car guy (and if you are reading this blog I would assume you are) you must have noticed that, later today's afternoon, an increasingly number of rumors about the new Porsche 911 GT2 RS unofficially breaking the Nürburgring lap record started to spread over social media feeds. 

Once arrived at home I turned on the TV and, eager to find out more, I selected this video by YouTube vlogger Misha Charoudin. Although I never met him (maybe in the future?), Misha is a cool guy and does an incredible good job in bringing moments of daily life around the Nürburgring from the prospective of a genuine car nut who also happens to run operations for Apex Nurburg, a rental car business next to the Green Hell.

Increasing rumors hinted that this week a special event was going to take place during a manufacturer test session and Misha headed to the track to verify if Porsche was really going to challenge the lap record. To his (and my) surprise, however, as soon as he arrived trackside he spotted (minute 3:34) a BNR34 M-spec lapping the german course. The car passed again for a second lap (minute 7:35) and this time Misha managed to take some clear footage of it.

The tape leaves no doubt: this is unmistakably the same development spec car with a light blue roll-cage that I featured in my dedicated post "Nissan's Nürburgring Meister" back in May. This really does leave me wondering because, while back in May I thought that the R34 was placed in Nissan's promotional video back in 2014 for marketing purposes and an added "cool" effect, this time there was no filming around and no R35 was spotted at the 'Ring on that day: it really appears as Nissan was actually lapping the car for data collecting or testing purposes.

To my knowledge, that specific M-spec is permanently stationed in Germany at Nissan development center next to the Nürburgring and, at least from an external point of view, appears to be in its pure stock form (exhaust included!). And here comes the million dollar question: why is Nissan still testing at the Nürburgring a car that is almost 20 years old and that shares no components with any of the current production models? Why still collecting data with a model that, from a conceptual point of view, is light years behind the next generation of hybrid-powered sportscars?

It will be interesting to dig out more, but for now, seeing such an iconic car still being valued as a point of reference for tests in 2017 is beyond cool.

Until next time.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A New BNR34 Clubman Race Spec?

GT-R shop specialist and Nismo Super GT sponsor Craft Sports has commissioned to Omori Factory a BNR34 Clubman Race Spec.

Based on a V-spec II model finished in the iconic Bayside Blue, the car has undergone a 9 months long restoration and tuning process.

The Clubman Race Spec is not sold as a complete factory car and Nismo leaves to customers the choice of what parts and menu options they want to have installed.
Unfortunately, mostly due to costs reasons, this time they decided to skip the white body ground-up restoration of the chassis that has been performed on the factory demo cars. Although incredibly expensive, this is the essential step that guarantees a total restoration to conditions even superior to the original factory finish.

What has been performed instead was a through engine bay restoration: the difference in the before and after photos is quite remarkable.

The stock RB26 has been replaced with a brand new R2 powerplant.

The customer has opted for color coding the cam cover and plenum in Bayside Blue, a choice I'm personally not a huge fan of.

This photo is quite special: the technicians temporarily stored the used RB26 next to some factory race engines, including a JGTC GT500 spec with the signature magnesium cam covers.

The the car is currently undergoing the final touches and calibration prior to delivery to its new owner.

Nismo has always been criticized for its conservative approach and relatively outdated tuning methods, but, hate it or love it, the allure of a completely refreshed BNR34 is undeniable.

All photos courtesy of Craft Sports.

Until next time.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

R's Meeting 2017 - Fail

With over 2000 GT-Rs in attendance, specialized makers and tuners gathering from all over Japan at Fuji Speedway, R's Meeting is a must for every GT-R enthusiast. As somebody who owns a blog titled BNR34 GT-R saying that I really had plans to attend this year's edition of the event would be stating the obvious.

My coverage of R's Meeting 2016 was very much an impromptu put together during the infancy of this blog: this year I had serious plans to take things to the next level with a very special coverage. By now I'm sure you have realized that things didn't go as planned, but let's make a step back.

As announced in my last post, I took a couple of weeks off to visit home back in Italy. It was a great two weeks off where I could relax and unwind: things do really move at a much slower pace over there.

The car scene is completely different: cars are really trashed daily and are a pure commodity. People really drive their rides until the wheels come off and the average vehicle comes with a handful of scratches, dents and painfully abused paintwork. In two whole weeks I ran into one Ferrari and a couple of 911s, while this sporty edition of a Renault Clio is pretty much as good as it gets when it comes to car spotting around town. 

After 10 years in Japan I must admit that I'm really not used anymore to life back in Italy, but it's great to enjoy the differences in lifestyle while catching up with family and friends and indulging in some sightseeing.

So, all in all a great holiday and I did even manage to perfectly time my return flight as I was scheduled to arrive on Saturday 9th at 10:00pm, just in time to hit the road the next morning, destination R's Meeting - Fuji Speedway. A quick 90 minutes layover in Dubai guaranteed minimum downtime and I had full faith that Emirates (ironically rated as one of the best airlines by consumers) would manage the transition smoothly. Attending R's Meeting sounded like the perfect way to end my trip back home.

But, right away, I was proven wrong by a 30 minutes delay announcement at departure, which left us with barely 1 hour to make it to our connection. As much as I tried to be optimistic, more problems were around the corner as the plane landed exactly on the other side of the airport. By the time my connection flight was taking off we were still taxing on our way to the terminal - the rest, you can imagine. I found myself with a refund ticket for the next day and 16 hours to kill in the lowest three-star airport hotel in the outskirts of Dubai.

Until R's Meeting 2018.