1996 Nissan Primera (P10)
AS … SUPER TOURING DAWNED, SO DID A NEW, CONCERTED EFFORT BY NISSAN TO SEIZE A EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CROWN
Nissan’s involvement in Group A touring car racing wasn’t quite as prominent in Europe as it was throughout Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. For Group A, Nissan developed the DR30 Skyline; the HR31 GTS-R Skyline, powered by the RB20DET; and the unforgettable ‘Godzilla’ — the mighty R32 GT-R. Each of these cars saw increased success in the championships it contested, but, as the age of Super Touring dawned, so did a new, concerted effort by Nissan to seize a European touring car crown.
Nissan turned up at the beginning with its boxy P10 Primera — perhaps at face value one of the least-inspiring bland-mobiles on which to base a prospective race winner. Race car engineering and development specialist Janspeed took on the job of converting the P10 into a capable Super Touring car with factory support. This continued until 1995, when Janspeed withdrew its British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) operation, which prompted a temporary hiatus from the series by Nissan. Nissan had meanwhile established its own Nissan Motorsport Europe (NME) operation, eventually taking over the Super Touring program.
While the P11 Primera may have been in its sights by this stage, this 1996 P10 (chassis No. 23) left the NME workshop as one of the ultimate evolutions of the P10 bodyshell. Destined for the Spanish Touring Car Championship, the car was driven in ’96 by ex–Formula 1 (F1) pilot Eric van de Poele, managing a fifth-overall placing with a couple of race wins. The following year, the car competed in the Central European championship with Czech Vaclav Bervid, earning second overall and several race wins, pole positions, and fastest laps.
In contrast to the earlier BMW, this P10 is notably more advanced. The SR20-based 2.0-litre is set low and back in the engine bay, with a reversed head and eight injectors contributing to its 224-kilowatt output. A six-speed Hewland gearbox handles gear ratios, and engine management remains under control of a period Pectel T6 2000 with an Aim dash. One notable feature of the Primera is the dual-caliper front-brake set-up — huge twopiece rotors are clamped by twin water-cooled AP calipers at either end. To complement the Nissan’s country of origin, the wheels are also Japanese — finely crafted 19-inch Rays Engineering ‘fortesst’ centre locks.
Cabin-adjustable anti-roll bars, as well as swathes of carbon fibre, adorn the interior, with a floor-mounted pedal box, extended steering column, and set-back seat.
Restored to its original ’96 CET Repsol livery in 2015 by UK Nissan Super Touring specialists Dave Jarman and Keith Butcher, the Primera is a recent arrival to New Zealand shores with owner Murray Sinclair, for the purpose of historic competition.