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Old 12-09-2008, 08:32 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Chapter/Region: South East
Location: FFR Challenge #43
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Default Driving the GTR at Road Atlanta

My friend took a GTR out with NASA at RA this weekend. I thought a few would enjoy his write up. While his current track car is a 350Z, his daily is a Z06, and he use to drive a FFR-spec, so he isn't a nissan fan boy at all.

First Real Test Drive...Road Atlanta


I say this as I donít own a GTR, but wanted to share my experience from this past weekend at Road Atlanta. While being lucky enough to drive one before but only on the street, itís hard to tell how good the GTR really is. Fortunate enough, being in the right place at the right time landed me behind the wheel of the GTR at Road Atlanta.

Quick background, I race a 350z and on occasion can been seen piloting Factory Five Challenge Cobraís and Daytona Coupeís around the tracks in the south east, mainly with NASA. So after a brief conversation with the owner he was kind enough to offer up the GTR for a session. Not sure he realizes what he has done I had him repeat it. Fair enough I accepted the offer and made plans to take the GTR out for the last session of the day.

Ten till five we meet up only to find out he rather not ride but watch from the side of the track, but he did place his daughter in the car which I suppose he was confident in either the safety features of the car or my driving. Pulling into grid early netted us the first out spot, but seemed to attract some attention from other would be rivals.

This was the owners first track event and thus was banished into hpde1 hell where as someone gave me a get out of jail free card. So in a mix group of hpde 3&4 drivers we had a Z06, Hennessey Viper and 911, of course the grid monkeys came over and give me grief about such a dangerous combination of cars. Yet I tell them no worries, Iíll be taking it easy as itís neither my car nor my daughter.

As I get the ok from pit out we slide the shifter from park to manual mode and proceed up the hill into turn one. First thing I noticed is how quickly the gear shift changes take with seamless precision and how little it upset the GTRís balance. Proceeding down into the esses I can feel the front wheels struggling to pull the tarmac from the surface with each steering direction change. Heading into turn six I have a chance to apply the brakes and was rewarded with a fantastic pedal feel with such easy modulation. Coming out of seven once again brought the front wheels grappling the surface as I power down the straight. By now I am pulling back on the shifter paddle rather quickly as each gear change turns the twin turbo enginesí power into propulsion. Turn 10a is coming up quickly and I am thinking about the posted weight of the GTR. But all weight just melted away as the brakes pedal holds firm. Performing down shift while driving deep into brakes were as equally well match as the up shifts, only perfect rev matches were a click away.

The quick left Ė right of 10A-B does not unsettle the GTR from its position on track as I power up to the Suzuki bridge. A quick up shift as I crest the top of the hill we power down into turn twelve. Here is the only place on the track where the GTR weight could be felt, as I came down the hill and start the turn into twelve the weight could be felt shifting from right to left-but the cars suspension responded to hold the course as we accelerated down 12 to the main straight. I repeated this for a full twenty five minutes.

The steering balance is perfectly weighted and started to think Nissan lied about the cars heft, she drives like she weighed 2900 lbs. Nary a fade on the brakes but could start to smell the brake pads in protest. The chorus between the AWD, brakes, suspension and steering were in full song. Without a hint of the GTR unwillingness to do as I asked, I pushed further. Even tried using the various gators in key corners to unsettle the mighty beast, only to be rewarded with even quicker lap times. This is without a doubt the easiest car to drive fast I have ever driven.

To put this in perspective for those of you have not taken their GTR to the track (and you should do so) our teamís fully prepped 350Z with Hoosier tires runs 1:41xx laps around Road Atlanta, with an easy drive I was lapping the track at 1:39 in a totally stock-drive out tagged- GTR.

Oh and to cut my long windedness short, by the first out lap we were 200 yards ahead of the Z06 according to the grid monkeys who quickly gave up on the ever increasing distance and we were just about able to put the Viper a lap down when we picked up the checker flag to end the session. And our co-pilot really did enjoy the ride and so did I!

Thanks again for the drive!!
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