If Mark’s current story on three race replicas hitting the streets of Japan doesn’t show that the BTCC Tremendous Tourer period actually transcends language and distance obstacles, nothing else will.
The late-Nineteen Nineties Tremendous Tourer race sequence was designed to push gross sales of everyman four-door saloons. However whereas the vehicles loosely resembled their road-going counterparts, beneath the pores and skin they couldn’t be extra completely different.
Budgets stretched nicely into seven figures for every automobile, with top-tier motorsport groups extra generally related to Method 1 and the World Rally Championship all vying for the Tremendous Tourer podium.
Seeing one of many vehicles from that period at Race Retro a number of weeks in the past solely reaffirmed my obsession with these wonderful machines.
The automobile 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, had been tasked by Nissan to produce a aggressive Tremendous Tourer from the standard 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 automobile, which supplied 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 had been additionally added to the 1998 automobile.
These adjustments helped, and this similar yr the Primera turned the primary Japanese automobile to win a BTCC championship. The group received the 1998 producer and group championship, and in 1999 additionally took residence crucial accolade with Laurent Aïello successful 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 potential.
When RML was accomplished, 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 facet wheel tub.
Externally, the automobile 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 like the Prodrive BTCC Mondeo we beforehand featured on Speedhunters, with the driving place moved additional to the rear and barely inwards to enhance weight steadiness.
Whereas the sheer audacity of the late-’90s Tremendous Tourers are not any much less loopy at present, 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 associated fee-cutting measures these days have meant much less alternative for this form of considering to happen, however was a essential evil to maintain the racing shut and entice groups to enter.
Fortunately, somebody has introduced this explicit automobile again into the aggressive fold. The Traditional Touring Automotive Racing Championship (CTCRC) might not have the cachet of the BTCC, however the Primera’s proprietor shouldn’t be alone, with over a dozen Tremendous Tourers competing within the 2023 race season.
So if the subsequent technology hybrid vehicles aren’t for you, having the ability to watch some the older technology of vehicles duking it out on the monitor at the very least eases the blow a bit of.