Nissan sending GT-R hillthletes to challenge Simola

  • Nissan sending GT-R team to war
  • Japanese aiming to claw Jaguars?
  • One GT-R packing 1500kW to Simola
SUPERHOTSHOTS: Neil Baard (left) and Jaki Scheckter with their groundbound flying machines will be hill-howling at Knysna. Image: Nissan SA
SUPERHOTSHOTS: Wilhelm Baard (left) and Jaki Scheckter with their groundbound flying machines will be hill-howling at Knysna. Image: Nissan SA

ROSSLYN, South Africa – Nissan is sending a fleet of 12 GT-R supercars to challenge the rest – particularly Jaguar, the main sponsor? – at Knysna’s Simola Hillclimb over May 5-8.

At stake will be the supercar crown and the battle will be for two of the three new King of the Hill titles.

The Nissan’s will compete in various production, modified and supercar classes:  10 will be GT-R from various places and stages of tune, making it the most popular vehicle at the Hillclimb by some margin.

simola baard
WILHELM BAARD: He’ll be driving a 750kW BB GT-R.  Image: Nissan SA

Among the registered contenders is the R32 GT-R of Desmond Gutzeit, rumoured to have even more power than the 1350kW it delivered in 2016, R34 GT-R’s and several standard but highly modified R35 units.

‘EACH IS UNIQUE’

2017 will also see the first entry of a unique wide-body Liberty Walk R35 Nissan GT-R.

Nissan SA has supported several contenders. It’s directly involved in the Hillclimb campaigns of the 750kW+ BB GT-R to be driven by Nissan competitive vehicle assessment specialist Wilhelm Baard and a standard MY17 Nissan GT-R to be driven by Jaki Scheckter.

Xavier Gobille, sales, marketing and after-sales director at Nissan Group of Africa, told The Corner in a media release: “That so many people have chosen to race a GT-R at Simola and that each is unique is testament to the car’s engineering brilliance.

“Some of the GT-R units will be driven to the race, and then on the hill, with 95 octane fuel and standard road tyres. Others will shred the tar with more than 1500kW of power.”

Event organisers have, to accommodate the various GT-R models and the wide range of other standard and highly modified cars, have added categories and three King of the Hill titles. Nissan GT-R models will compete in the KotH for road-going saloons and supercars and the KotH for modified saloons.

simola jaki scheckter
JAKI SCHECKTER: He’ll be aboard a standard 2017 Nissan GT-R.  Image: Nissan SA

The BB Group and Nissan SA will enter Baard’s GT-R in Class B2 for AWD six-cylinder cars with forced induction. The team has managed to extract so much more power and handling from the engine and chassis that they have informally renamed this car “Armageddon” from last year’s “Godzilla”.

‘WE’RE STILL TWEAKING’

This car is said to have had its most major overhaul to date since racing the Hill in 2016. Baard said of the 2014 GT-R:  “While we are still tweaking the engine and handling we can confidently say that this R35 model will have far more than 745kW and 1400Nm.”

The team made major advancements in handling, including lightening the car – and consequently its centre of gravity – by more than 300kg to better attack the tight upper part of the 1.9km Simola hill.

Many engine and chassis components are new.

Baard added: “The BB Nissan GT-R also has bespoke engine mapping for fine-tuning engine performance and torque for various parts of the hill. It’s incredible how you can tune the R35 to the most exacting standards!”

SPECIAL LUBRICANTS FROM MOTUL

The new mapping will help this GT-R at launch; an extra rear diffuser, different air management and new rear wing will enhance high-speed aerodynamics as it seeks to conquer the hill in less than 40 seconds.

The car will also have specialised Motul oils and lubricants, sponsored by Motul and, for the first time, soft-compound tyres. In 2016 it did the final run on worn rubber and lost seconds at launch.

READ MORE Simola Hillclimb features on Carman’s Corner

The second GT-R backed by Nissan SA will be driven by Jaki Scheckter, well-known international racer and a winner of the Motorsportsman of the Year.

His GT-R will be a 2017 fielding more than 400kW as standard. The MY17 model has seen the GT-R improve its performance from 379  to 408kW and from 628 to 632 Nm.

BLACK EDITION + RECARO SEATS

“Last year we beat all the European contenders with a MY15 model so we have high hopes of retaining of KotH title. The extra power and better mid-range torque will certainly help and, as it’s a Black Edition, the Recaro seats will be a definite boon.”

The Simola Hillclimb will start in earnest on May 5 with classic-car races  and administration and scrutineering for the GT-R’s. The final runs for the ultimate KotH titles will be on Sunday (May 7) afternoon.

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