Sunday, February 24, 2019

(Small) Car Update & New Projects

The past few weeks have been quite hectic; from finalizing the last touches on my BNR34 to booking my Nürburgring trip I had little time to update the blog. Let’s start with my car: a bit over one month away from completion we are really approaching the last phases of the build and this weekend I headed over to deliver one more part.

I remember the confused look I was given by some of my friends when over 2 years ago I started collecting parts at Nissan Prince Motorsport Tokyo; fast forward to today and it revealed to be a choice that paid off in spades as I have been forced to used some of the additional spares in my stock as they are now discontinued and even Omori Factory couldn’t supply them. This weekend it was a very simple and inexpensive cover that fits in the trunk; however, given the size, it called for a rental to be transported. Fittingly, this time I was given a Nissan Note.

The car is nearly 95% complete and, at this point, I’m really excited to see what the end result will look like. Last time I felt so much anticipation must have been Christmas Eve ‘95. Ironically, although yet to be finished, I have already planned a first major modification that will be likely fitted this summer once the car will be run in. More to come.

Although I didn’t spend much time in the workshop and pretty much dropped my part and left, I couldn’t help but noticing how the number of R35s that I’ve seen in for servicing and upgrades has been definitely increasing over the last years or so. This will definitely be a big focus for Nismo future parts development as the “old” 35 is slowly becoming a modern classic.

Speaking of the R35, the mighty Motul Autech GT-R that claimed the Super GT title in 2015 was on display in the showroom. This car might not evoke the nostalgic feeling of the older R34 racers, but it surely has presence and even the untrained eye can notice the amount of technology that has been poured into engineering it.

GT500 cars are faster than LMP2 prototypes around Fuji Speedway; I have been following the series live since 2013 and this truly is the pinnacle of Japanese motorsport. I would definitely recommend anyone who has the opportunity to watch at least one race as it surely makes for a great experience.

As I was leaving, I ran into an interesting surprise in the parking area: a vintage Skyline laying on a flatbed.

The car had definitely seen better days and I wonder if it was brought in for restoration (although Aki suggested that this might be more of a job for Autech).

In other news, the summer trip to the Nürburgring is also almost completely booked: flights, accommodation, driving school, taxi laps and car rental are all confirmed - now it’s time for some planning to ensure I’ll make the most out of my time there! I actually managed to finalize some of the details while having lunch at a new udon place close to the factory: generously portioned and inexpensive, this is Japanese soul food at its best.

Spring is around the corner and, with the car incoming and other new projects on the horizon I am really excited for the new season ahead.

Until next time.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Summer 2019 Nürburgring Trip

If you are a loyal reader of this blog you will probably know that I am a happy owner of a R34 V-spec II Nür. Over the past few years the “Nür” badge has become a bit of an icon (or bragging tool) amongst the owners community, but back in January 2002, when Nissan announced the swan song of the BNR34, it was meant to be a nod to the most demanding circuit in the world where some of the final testing of the car was done. 

From there the popularity of the Nürburgring has exponentially increased year by year; today a full lap on the Nordschleife is the ultimate performance benchmark amongst car manufacturers. The circuit also hosts the most grueling GT competition in the world, the Nürburgring 24 Hours - a race I have fallen in love with (and one that our beloved R34 has challenged for several years). Simply put, the ‘Ring is a Mecca for motorsports enthusiasts and after a couple of years of procrastination, I finally booked my tickets for a visit in summer 2019!

This was long overdue and one of my projects for this year: more experiences, more driving and more time spent actually living the car passion. Being trackside and watching professional GT racing is one of the things I enjoy the most and living in Japan has allowed me to visit circuits like Tsukuba, Fuji Speedway and Motegi several times. Ironically, while Germany can be reached by plane with ease from almost anywhere in Europe, now that I live on the other side of the world getting to Frankfurt requires a 10+ hours haul flight; I did however planned a visit back home as well this summer, so this will be a great opportunity to combine both trips.

I will be at the Nürburgring for a full week: first to watch live the 24 Hours race and then for some track lessons, taxi laps and sightseeing around the circuit. The Eifel region offers some great sceneries and plenty of automotive and motorsport related activities and museums. I look forward to documenting my trip and other few surprises along the way, so please stay tuned!

Until next time.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

King of the ‘Ring

Hard to believe, but the R35 GT-R is now over 10 years old; I clearly remember seeing it presented to the world at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2007. Today, it's still a car with great presence, albeit being a common sight around the world. The same, however, cannot be said for the Nismo version, especially when fitted with the N Attack Package.

Former JGTC Champion Michael Krumm set the Nürburgring record for production cars in 2013 with a car fitted with the same options list. I was lucky to see the record-setting model at the Factory many years ago, before it got tucked away inside Nismo garage. Krumm is a owner himself of a white Nismo R35 fitted with the kit he helped develop - must be a nice feeling!

I ran into this brand new (and very red) MY18 model a few weeks ago during a visit to Omori Factory. The car was in for pre delivery inspection after being fitted with the top of the line A Kit.

The cost of ticking all the options boxes is absolutely eye watering: priced at ¥9,000,000 the A Kit is just few hundred thousands Yen shy of the sticker tag of a brand new R35 GT-R.

For that amount owners get dedicated carbon intercooler piping, a retouched ECM, upgraded front and rear L.S.D. units, carbon fenders and rear wing plus other aerodynamic improvements. Carbon Recaro bucket seats are added, while the rear seats are removed in the name of weight saving.

The biggest item, which accounts for roughly 30% of the final bill, must be the dedicated set of 4 way adjustable Öhlins dampers and shocks, which are basically a GT3 racer spec version adapted for the road. If this wasn’t enough, owners can also add in optional Willans harnesses and a carbon fiber gurney flap on the front hood that is for circuit use only. The full spec list can be found here.

Whether the performance benefits of the package are worth the price tag is up to the owners to decide, but they surely add character to a car that is already quite special.

Until next time.