This is a getting-to-know-you session, but I’m putting up times in the mid 1:43s, which is as fast as I’ve ever gone around this track. The GT-R isn’t as agile in the tight corners as the Focus RS with that effective torque-vectoring rear diff, but it’s much faster in the straights.
Now familiar with the car, I find it easier to handle. When I’m feeling randy, I can go into a corner hot, pitch the car sideways with a flick of the steering wheel to induce a short four-wheel drift, set it on the proper line, then drive it through the corner. That’s not usually the fastest way through a corner, but it’s fun. The Race mode setting for the stability control system leaves plenty of slip angle without bringing the car back on line through targeted braking or cutting power. For a car that’s been accused of feeling digital, that’s awfully analog. I couldn’t make such bold moves if I couldn’t feel what the GT-R is doing at track-level.
My lap times are coming down, too, as I find new ways to extract more performance from the car. Session 2 gets into the low 1:43s and one particularly good lap on Session 3 yields a 1:42.14, more than a second faster than I’ve ever gone here.
2018 Nissan GT-R Track Edition, Gingerman Raceway, May 2018Enlarge Photo
This time out everything clicks. I find little bits of speed in various corners, and getting on the throttle earlier near apexes makes up for the slight bit of throttle lag. It pays off in higher speeds at the ends of straights: 100 mph into corner 3, 108 into 5/6, 100 again at the end of 7/8/9 combination, and 133 into turn 11.
My times are now consistently in the 1:41s and I set a personal best 1:40.64 on my third lap. I’ve cut almost three seconds off my time from the first session.
I’ve learned the car’s character so well that I can feel its sweet spot. The Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 DSST Ctt tires heat up and start to feel greasy after three or four laps, but bounce back with a 20- to 30-minute cool-down. The brakes do the same. They feel great, with a high pedal for the first four or five laps, then the pedal sinks a bit lower but stopping power never fades. Next time out, the pedal is back up high again.
I’m back in the 1:41s again for Session 5, with one high 1:40 time, but I can’t beat my previous best. That’s OK. It was a great run.
Godzilla has proven to be a monster that could handle all the punishment I could throw at it. It survived five sessions in the heat with ease.
Race mode is great for the track, but it’s not ideal for street use. For my 2.5-hour drive back to Chicago, I reach down to the mode switches again, this time turning them all to Comfort mode.
Comfort is a relative term here. Comfort mode for the Bilstein dampers takes the sharpness out of bumps while adding some abrupt bounding over highway expansion joints, which may be worse for concrete freeway pavement. Around town and over Chicago’s pockmarked streets, however, Comfort is the only mode to use. Speaking of comfort, the Track Edition’s Recaro buckets are a little too tight for my slightly too large hindquarters. That’s great on the track, but not ideal for longer trips.
If you buy a GT-R Track Edition, take its name into account and be sure to find a way to get it out on a track to get the best out of it.
Godzilla may be a monster, but he proved to be a hero on the track and a little salty on the street.