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31 January 2012

Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3: Godzilla for sale. Serious buyers only.

Words by Niky Tamayo | Photos courtesy of Nissan Motorsports
Before the Nissan GT-R made a name for itself as the supercar-slaying cult hero of the streets, it was already widely known as a giant-killer on the racetrack. The legendarily super-sports car first gained notoriety for its utter dominance in Japan’s Grand Touring Car and Super GT championships as well as Australia's Super Car series. Its unbeatable performance on the track is what first earned it the name "Gojira" (Godzilla).
Of course, these were purpose-built racecars with little in common with the road-going version; but now, interested buyers can own an honest-to-goodness GT-R racecar through Nismo’s GT3 customer program.
While the 32 million yen (P17.7 million) price tag may seem a bit steep, considering this car lacks all-wheel drive and makes a piddling 520 hp (versus the standard 545 hp), the GT3 weighs a whopping 340 kilos less than the road car. This is thanks, in no small part, to full-carbon bodywork similar to the successful GT1 racecar, the deletion of AWD, and the adaptation of a Hewland six-speed sequential. Suffice to say, it’s a whole lot faster on the racetrack. 
The GT-R also features a fully adjustable Ohlins double wishbone suspension and 18x10” Rays center-locking wheels. The GT-R GT3 looks suitably muscular and aggressive, and the aerodynamics and suspension package have been honed over the past year in actual competition.
For the GT3 race car, Nissan worked with JR Motorsports (JRM), the team that campaigned the Sumo Power GT-R in the FIA GT1 World Championship. Along the way, they developed the package and worked out durability and reliability issues under actual race conditions. They brought the car from midfielder status to front-running pace, finally qualifying 3rd for the 24 hours of Dubai, proving the inherent pace of the car. While it didn't finish due to damages incurred from an accident, this result shows the car's potential. Satisfied that the development program has hit its targets, Nissan is now offering the cars to customer teams through its Nismo performance arm, for use in FIA GT3 events.
Buyers can expect the car to be drivable, reliable, and competitive out of the box, and a potential winner in the right hands. Of course, they’ll have to beat other teams running the car. But as some of the better known and more successful Nissan customer teams have already placed their orders, that’s going to be a pretty tough challenge.