If Mark’s current story on three race replicas hitting the streets of Japan doesn’t show that the BTCC Tremendous Tourer period really transcends language and distance limitations, nothing else will.
The late-Nineties Tremendous Tourer race collection was designed to push gross sales of everyman four-door saloons. However whereas the automobiles loosely resembled their road-going counterparts, underneath the pores and skin they couldn’t be extra completely different.
Budgets stretched properly into seven figures for every automotive, with top-tier motorsport groups extra generally related to Formulation 1 and the World Rally Championship all vying for the Tremendous Tourer podium.
Seeing one of many automobiles from that period at Race Retro just a few weeks in the past solely reaffirmed my obsession with these wonderful machines.
The automotive in query was a Nissan Primera from the 1998 BTCC Tremendous Tourer season, as pushed by David Leslie and constructed by RML (Ray Mallock Restricted).
RML, having achieved loads of success throughout quite a few motorsport classes since its inception in 1984, have been tasked by Nissan to produce a aggressive Tremendous Tourer from the common-or-garden front-wheel drive, second-gen P11 Primera GT sedan.
First campaigned in 1997, the Primera Tremendous Tourer retained the electrical folding mirrors of the road-going automotive, which offered a real excessive velocity benefit by lowering drag. This was unsurprisingly outlawed for 1998. Revised aero packages, bigger flared entrance wings and an upgraded sprint and ECU have been additionally added to the 1998 automotive.
These adjustments helped, and this similar 12 months the Primera grew to become the primary Japanese automotive to win a BTCC championship. The group received the 1998 producer and group championship, and in 1999 additionally took dwelling a very powerful accolade with Laurent Aïello profitable the drivers championship.
The Primera’s SR20DE engine was fitted with a reversed cylinder head, together with a dry sump to permit it sit as low and much again as attainable.
When RML was carried out, the engine made a wholesome 326 horsepower from 2.0 litres, however this highly-strung powerplant got here with some drawbacks. The engines required preheated oil to be pumped by means of their veins earlier than begin up, and sitting so low within the bay additionally meant that the steering column wouldn’t match, therefore the bevel-drive gearbox mounted on the motive force’s aspect wheel tub.
Externally, the automotive sits on 19×9-inch centre-lock RAYS Volk Racing Touring Evolution Fortesst magnesium wheels. They’re tucked on the rear, with the radiused entrance arches permitting for a bit extra clearance by means of the 1.25 turns of lock-to-lock steering.
The one noticeable different adjustments from inventory are the entrance air dam and rear wing.
The inside is very similar to the Prodrive BTCC Mondeo we beforehand featured on Speedhunters, with the driving place moved additional to the rear and barely inwards to enhance weight stability.
Whereas the sheer audacity of the late-’90s Tremendous Tourers aren’t any much less loopy right now, the ingenuity and creativity their monumental budgets afforded are one thing we’re unlikely to see in production-car-based motorsport ever once more. The price-cutting measures these days have meant much less alternative for this type of pondering to happen, however was a needed evil to maintain the racing shut and entice groups to enter.
Fortunately, somebody has introduced this specific automotive again into the aggressive fold. The Basic Touring Automotive Racing Championship (CTCRC) could not have the cachet of the BTCC, however the Primera’s proprietor isn’t alone, with over a dozen Tremendous Tourers competing within the 2023 race season.
So if the subsequent era hybrid automobiles aren’t for you, with the ability to watch some the older era of automobiles duking it out on the monitor at the least eases the blow somewhat.