The modern GT-R achieved its aura and its respect not from Gran Turismo, nor from the fact that we Americans were deprived of its greatness for so long. The real, unassailable statistics that back up the GT-R’s reputation are the three consecutive World Championships in Australian Group A racing and wins at the Bathurst 1000 in both 1991 and 1992. With four wheel-drive traction and monstrous power from the RB26 motor, there wasn’t much the rear-drive opposition could do but flounder around in Godzilla’s wake.
This particular footage comes from Mark Skaife’s blistering pole position at the ’91 Bathurst 1000. Bouncing the stiffly-sprung GT-R around at Bathurst takes a lot of guts and a considerable amount of aggression, as the young Australian shows, then only 24 years old. Many dismiss the GT-R as a computer on wheels that does the driving for you, but drifting through “The Chase” at 174 mph should silence anyone who assumes that.
Observing the onboard footage, the GT-R hops mid-corner and looks as if the car needs to be overslowed at the apex, but what’s more likely is that the incredible corner exit acceleration makes the rest of the cornering process look sluggish by comparison. Nimbly bounding over crests and cambers, the Skyline does look precise on the way into the corner, especially with the way Skaife chucks it in, but not without a lot of movement at both axles. With a hint of understeer at the exit, Skaife often runs dramatically over the curbs, hopping and spitting huge flames from the massive, side exhaust.
Despite being from the earlier days of turbocharged racing engines, this RB26 looks incredibly responsive. Pulling out of every corner with a reasonably wide gearset, the straight-six produced huge torque across the rev range. At thirty pounds of boost, the Gibson Motorsports-prepped RB made 600 horsepower, which was enough to rocket it down the Conrod Straight at 186 mph — the same sort of speed that modern V8 Supercars achieve. When boost restrictions were predictably enforced in the GT-R’s last year, it kept winning, even with only 470 horsepower.
This aggressive lap clocked a 2:12:63 — a lap which then rewrote the touring car record and put him on pole position for the ’91 Bathurst 1000. This car also went on to win the race and establish the fastest lap — a stunning series of accomplishments. That sort of performance pushed the governing body to ban the Skyline. Though done under the pretenses of reducing running costs since turbo cars were so expensive, word has it that GM and Ford weren’t too happy with the little Nissan beating their formidable Commodores and Escorts, and hinted at abandoning the series. Not often have cars brought about so much pressure from major manufacturers as the Skyline GT-R has, and perhaps, that’s all that needs to be said about the Nissan’s legendary performance.