1996 Nis­san Primera (P10)

NZ Performance Car - - Historic Touring Cars Spotlights -

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.

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