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The re-emergence of Godzilla

Prior to the early 1990s, Godzilla was an enormous, destructive, prehistoric sea monster awakened and empowered by nuclear radiation from a 1950s film.

That was until Nissan’s Skyline R32 GT-R arrived.

Although it debuted here in 1990, at Mallala at Round 6 of the Australian Touring Car Championship on June 10 to be precise as during its early career reliability was a problem, but it’s rare pace was not.

In its maiden appearance, Mark Skaife qualified third and gradually hunted down the previously dominant Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 with ease until a hub failure quickly ended the GT-R’s run.

However, it had already displayed to its rivals what a weapon it was to be.

Skaife led the development work as teammate Jim Richards continued to use his faithful Skyline HR31 GTS-R where he secured victory at Amaroo Park and Winton before swapping over to the GT-R for the final two rounds.

Richards secured his third Australian Touring Car Championship and the first for Nissan by winning at Oran Park in the GT-R.

Gibson Motorsport’s work with its GT-R program was world leading and at Bathurst Nismo boss Kazuo Hioki came out for the race.

Again, the GT-R demonstrated its pace by setting the lap record, but driveline problems dropped Skaife and Richards down to 18th by the end.

Work undertaken ahead of the 1991 Australian Touring Car Championship made the GT-R bulletproof and the result was all bar two rounds were won by the model.

Jim Richards completed back-to-back touring car titles as in the lead up to Bathurst it was a matter of by how much the GT-R was going to win now reliability wasn’t a bugbear.

Now with three GT-Rs entered thanks to a customer example for Bob Forbes Racing duo Mark Gibbs and Rohan Onslow, hopes were high for Nissan as it celebrated a decade of contesting Australia’s greatest race.

Skaife scorched the track during the Tooheys Top 10, setting a record 2m 12.630s to start from pole alongside the Bob Forbes GT-R qualified by Mark Gibbs.

It was an inevitable result as Godzilla conquered the Mountain as Skaife and Richards won by a lap from reigning Bathurst winners Allan Grice and Win Percy in their Holden Racing Team VN Commodore Group A.

For 1992, penalties were applied to the GT-Rs including rev restrictions and weight, however this didn’t stop Gibson Motorsport from winning the touring car title, this time Skaife’s first before winning in controversial circumstances at Bathurst.

The new Ford vs Holden concept introduced for 1993 spelled the end for GT-R in touring cars, however the nameplate once again achieved success at the Mountain by winning the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2015 with its GT-R variant.