• Nissan NISMO Z Conquers the Festival of Speed

    nissan nismo

The NISMO GT500 championship winning Japanese Touring Car 350Z made its first appearance at Goodwood a memorable one yesterday by claiming the fastest time up the hill of 49.5 seconds. In fact, the Z was one of only two cars to break the 50 second barrier. This result is even more remarkable given that championship winning driver Richard Lyons had never been up the tricky and narrow hill climb circuit before.

As it was the first time for the car and driver to be at Goodwood, the car was originally entered to only do demonstration runs up the hill. But after the practice run on Friday, Richard was soon trying to convince the team to go for timed runs. On Saturday morning he was granted permission to show the crowds what this car is all about. And by the end of the day he posted the second fastest time – not bad considering he was still on wet tyres.

On Sunday, the weather started out very damp but by midday the circuit was drying out enough for the car to be fitted with slick tyres. Heading off along the circuit Richard was quickly aware that the slicks were not up to full operating temperature. The back end of the car squirmed into the first two corners and with the bumpy hill past the concrete wall still to come, the 350Z had to be handled with caution. In Richard’s own words: “It was a bit like driving on ice, we should have stuck with the wet tyres. I knew this would not be the fastest time possible.” But Richard needn’t have worried – this was the fastest run of the entire weekend.

The 350Z was not the only Nissan on the podium. The 1999 BTCC winning Primera car came in a respectable third thanks to the ever determined Anthony Reid. The privately owned Primera finished second last year and hoped to win in 2006. But to come third behind the GT500 winning 350Z and an F1 car is still an amazing achievement. Anthony should be very proud.

Singer Duncan James (formally of Blue) took time out from promoting his new solo album to drive the supercharged 350Z GT-S concept in the Supercar Run on Sunday. And a fine show he put on, too. As if the crowd wasn’t excited enough, Duncan slowed the car down on the straight, revved the engine, dropped the clutch and did a tyre smoking start – a superstar indeed.

As one of the first people to drive this special 350Z developed by engineers at Nissan’s Bedfordshire European Technical Centre, Duncan was more than a little nervous of its 380PS power output. But after the drive, once he’d fought his way through the pack of photographers, Duncan said: “that was absolutely amazing, what a great experience.”

As a Murano driver himself, Duncan was very interested in Nissan’s other concept car debut, the turbocarged 340PS Murano GT-C. This UK developed special sports 22” alloy wheels, red AP brake callipers, darkened grille and handles, an interior lightened with tan and black leather with a beige headlining plus an original Murano glass gear knob and tray with cool blue LED illumination. It certainly got a great reception from visitors to Nissan’s stand … as did the pink Micra C+C. And not just from girls. There was many a bloke wanting his picture taken by the eye-grabbing cabriolet.

Anybody who missed the NISMO 350Z and Murano GT-C at Goodwood will get a second chance to see them at next week’s British International Motor Show.

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