The Skyline GT-R’s reputation was based on a few things. Sure, Gran Turismo might’ve played a part in making it every teenage boy’s dream machine, but it was the performance of the Group A cars that really did it. Three consecutive championships in Australian Group A racing and wins at the Bathurst 1000 in both 1991 and 1992 meant nobody could deny the potential of the tech-laden, inconspicuous Japanese performance coupe and its robust RB26DETT engine.
The majority of the original Group A cars have been hidden away underneath a tarp in some air-conditioned garage, but, thankfully, some wild builders see that as sacrilege. Ric Wood is one who believes in keeping his old vehicles racing regularly—this Group A GT-R is part of a racing stable made up of vintage Fords and Holdens.
Well, to be fair, this Calsonic-liveried GT-R is more an homage to the great Group A cars and not a genuine, raced-in-period car, but it’s been built to the exact Group A specs with a massive budget and a qualified team of twenty-odd people. The only difference is that this car produces 400 more horsepower than the original cars did.
This R32 GT-R is a brute in the best sense of the word. With the boost turned all the way up to 2.0 bar (~29psi), its RB26 engine produces around 1,020 horsepower—enough to spin the wheels in Fourth and Fifth gear. It takes a committed man to get the most out of this machine, especially as it doesn’t develop any considerable downforce and has to rely on its ATTESA-ETS and mechanical grip to harness the power.
The driver chosen to wrestle with this uncorked Skyline is Jake Hill, a British Touring Car driver with a few wins to his name. The Skyline is very much an older race car with much more power than grip—quite the opposite of what his regular ride provides. Additionally, the Skyline has no downforce to rely on—it’s all mechanical grip.
This car probably shouldn’t have placed so well against the aero cars at this year’s Goodwood Speedweek Shootout, but it made the top ten; beating a Trans-Am Mustang, a bewinged Porsche WSC-95, as well as an Audi R8 GT2—the latter two driven by Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen. How could Hill and his wingless Skyline beat Kristensen in lighter, more focused, and far grippier cars around such a fast, flowing course?
To see the full timed shootout, click here.
Using All the Road
After an aggressive warming procedure before the starting line, Hill has almost enough tire temperature to lean on the car. His confidence in sliding the Skyline is a big part of his speed since the tires are still likely a little cold until later in the lap–so is his willingness and ability to use the entire width of the road. This makes it possible to get the throttle open at the earliest possible moment—a must with so much power and four-wheel drive to harness it.
The lap only gets better in the faster sections, where his precision and gusto allows him to reel off Fifth-gear slides while placing the broad-hipped Skyline just centimeters from the edge of the track. Remember: dewey grass doesn’t provide any grip when a car is sliding across it at 120 miles per hour and desperately trying to stop.
Hats off, Hill.