Robert Ingram’s Nissan Skyline GTR
Robert Ingram’s Nissan Skyline GTR.
A tale of two race cars
The return of Gibson Motorsport build #2 Nissan GTR to the experienced hands of Fred Gibson and Alan Heaphy revives memories of the GMS connection to Thailand business man ( and motorsport fanatic) Prutiral Ratanakul Serireongrith.
Following the launch of Nissan’s new four wheel drive Skyline GT-R, long time Nissansport competitor and parts importer Bruce Wilkinson contacted Fred Gibson regarding the development of a GT-R for ‘Pharn’ to compete in regional events, including the FIA sanctioned South East Asian Touring Car Championship. Shortly afterwards a Japanese built GT-R race car arrived from Bangkok at the GMS workshop in Healey Road for extensive modifications, using both Nismo and locally developed GMS performance parts, including a Hollinger gearbox. The car was then returned to Thailand where it achieved credible results.
The successful relationship established between GMS and ‘Pharn’ led to a request to prepare a full Group A specification vehicle to race in Thailand and Malaysia, prior to competing in the Fuji round of the 1992 Japanese Touring Car Championship..
Due to GMS’s significant commitment to Nissan Australia and the ATCC schedule it was agreed to supply the Australian build GT-R # 02, along with a substantial spare parts package and GMS technical staff,on a race by race basis.
This car had already made an indelible mark in Australian motorsport, winning the 1991 Bathurst 1000 in the time of 6 hours, 19 minutes and 14.8 seconds, a record that stood for almost 20 years! On delivery, both Fred and Nissan team driver Mark Skaife travelled to Bangkok to commission the GT-R and provide driver and technical training for the complex car, by now christened ‘Godzilla’ by the Australian media.
GMS staff, including Ivan Taylor, Steve Turner and engine man Ray Lester then began racking up frequent flyer points, attending local race meetings to support ‘Pharn’ and his pit crew.
Prior to the JTCC event the GT-R was crashed in Jahor, Malaysia, resulting in it being airfreighted back to the Melbourne workshop for a front end body and mechanical rebuild.
The visit to Japan for the Fuji race was memorable. Although he was over 7500kms from Fuji Raceway, Fred recalls the JTCC round well. “Fuji coincided with our November 8th Australian Grand Prix weekend, so effectively we were running two touring car races in two countries, simultaneously. We had sent a strong crew to Japan to support the Thailand GT-R and were constantly talking to them as the weekend unfolded, discussing the problems they were encountering with tyres and fuel. Frankly, I’m glad I was here in Australia”.
According to then GMS staffer Ivan Taylor, who was one of the ‘Fuji’ team, they were beset with problems from the time they arrived. “We had been expecting the latest Bridgestone tyres to be available”, Ivan recalls, “however the rubber supplied was the not latest spec available to the ‘local’ GT-Rs. We were also concerned about the quality of the fuel supplied to us, which had been organised through our Japanese interpreter. Our concerns were well founded when the engine detonated in practice, necessitating an overnight change. And finally, the race day strategy required one extra driver change and fuel stop which resulted in a disappointing outright eight place, behind the ‘local’ GT-Rs and an M3”.
At the completion of its regional racing activities the car was placed in storage in Bangkok. After a period of 15 years, following contact with a Singapore colleague, a series of phone leads and confirmation by Fred Gibson that the stored car was in fact the Bathurst winning GT-R, it was purchased in mid 2007 by Robert Ingram.
The GT-R has now joined Robert’s extensive Group A race car stable, which includes the 1990 Bathurst pole winning Allan Moffat entered Sierra RS 500 of Niedzwiedz, Biela and Dieudonne.
Robert has entrusted an extensive rebuild of the GT-R to Gibson Motorsport, including the rebuilding of the RB26DETT engine, driveline and suspension. In parallel with this mechanical work, the stripped bodyshell will be returned to Graeme Cochrane at Auto Innovations for an era correct repaint in the Nissan red white and blue, as raced in 1991.
Explaining his decision to entrust the rebuild to GMS Robert commented,” GMS has a reputation for building the world’s fastest Group A GT-Rs and I can think of no one better to oversee the rebuild than Fred and Alan”.
GMS looks forward to sharing photographs of the rebuild as it progresses over the coming months.
This entry was posted in News