Nissan GT-R will pace the 2009 V8 Supercar series, including Bathurst where its ancestor had success amid controversy.
Nissan’s GT-R is returning to the Australian V8 Supercar Championship, an arena where its four-wheel drive ancestor, the Skyline GT-R, played a prominent and at times controversial role in the early 1990s.
This time, though, Nissan’s 4WD supercar won’t be there as a competitor, but as the safety car. It replaces Chrysler’s 300C.
The GT-R safety car, fitted with high visibility safety lights, debuts at the opening round of the 2009 series, on the streets of Adelaide on March 14.
Nissan says the new car will “attract and maintain public interest in the GT-R over its product life and focus attention on the Nissan brand.”
V8 Supercar Series CEO, Cameron Levick, says Nissan has a proud history in Australian Touring Cars particularly through the 1980s and early 1990s so it’s “a welcome return for the manufacturer.
“They made their name in those days in the championship and particularly at Bathurst with Mark Skaife and Jim Richards co dominating at the time.”
"There were certainly some mixed emotions back then and plenty of passion surrounding the GT-R,” said Levick in a sentence that almost redefined understatement.
The GT-R, dubbed Godzilla, won Bathurst two years’ running, the second time in dramatic and controversial fashion.
Richards and Skaife were leading the 1992 Bathurst 1000 when rain suddenly started falling and several cars, all running slick dry weather tyres, crashed.
The road at Forrest’s Elbow was virtually blocked and officials decided to red-flag the race. Among the crashed cars was the Richards/Skaife Skyline.
Under racing rules, when a race is stopped and ruled to be over, the finishing order is that at the end of the lap before the red flag is flown.
The leaders then were Richards and Skaife and they were declared the winners much to the chagrin of Dick Johnson whose Ford had completed the lap on which officials threw the red flag.
He believed he had won and so did the Ford fans who booed Skaife and Richards on the victory podium.
And that caused the usually mild-mannered and polite Richards to lose his rag. “You’re just a pack of arseholes,” he told the jeering crowd.