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Nissan 350Z race cars 

Broadcast dates : 22nd May 2005
28th May 2005


The re-emergence of Nissan has really woken up track racing at circuits around the country Ė with the impact of an alarm clock with sub-woofers!

Making its debut in late February at Kyalami at the start of the 2005 Vodacom Power Tour, the pair of 350Z Sahara Production racers are already on the pace with the BMW 330s and Alfas GTAs.

Over the past couple of years, Nissan Motorsport in South Africa has dominated off-road racing here with these Hardbody-based pick-ups. 

Under the leadership of Glyn Hall, the Midrand workshop has also produced racers for the Paris-Dakar event, with local ace Giniel de Villiers finishing in the top-five three years in a row.

The Z-car legend goes back to the 1970s and has many racetrack successes to its name.

Itís a sleek, pure two-seater with low-slung-looks to match its very serious engine and handling package.

The Sahara Production Car rules allow limited modifications to the cars, which have to be series-production models on sale in South Africa,

These mods include lower and stiffened suspension, a quick-release steering wheel, a gutted interior, digital race-tech instrumentation, and a full roll cage, which not only provides driver protection but also adds plenty of chassis stiffness.
Team drivers for this year are mainstay Nissan man Duncan Vos and sports-car ace Gary Formato. Gary scored the teamís first victory in Cape Town a few weeks ago.

Engine rules in Production Car racing are really strict, with virtually no modifications allowed. Minor-blueprinting and component finishing is allowed but Nissan has done little engine fettling, concentrating instead on handling.

The geometry on each wheel is set differently to arrive at an optimum setting for different racetracks. Camber angles are generally negative on the front, so that during hard cornering, the tyre rides flat on the road and doesnít tuck in or fold under the wheel rim.

With a brand-new car, itís case of a dip into the deep end at each new track on the calendar.

The Nissan 350Z has 204 kiloWatts, which is some twenty to thirty more than its competition. To compensate, the organizers impose a weight penalty.

Nissan Motorsport is one of the top three teams in the country, and highly professional in its approach.

The cars have their own transporter and a mobile workshop accompanies them to each race meeting.

The 350Zs have dedicated teams of technicians, and although thereís a lot of glamour associated with the sport, itís probably one of the most demanding occupations in terms of man-hours and pressures.

The Nissan come-back has really drawn the crowds back to the race circuits. In the top production-car class there are now teams fielded by BMW and Alfa Romeo, and shortly Audi will be making its appearance with its S3.

Nissan relishes the prospect of close racing over the next few seasons.

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