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New car to replace 327km/h Bathurst Skyline

THE R32 Nissan Skyline dubbed ‘too fast for Bathurst’ after clocking 327km/h+ top speeds at Mount Panorama in February isn’t part of the Sports Sedan field at this weekend’s Bathurst 1000.

But Tassie turbo tuner Brad Sherriff has a replacement car in build and is gearing up to return to the Mountain in 2024 as part of a full assault on the National Sports Sedan Series.

Sherriff’s run in the Combined Sedans support races at the Bathurst 12 Hour had been in preparation for this year’s Sports Sedan competition.

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The straightline speed of the GTS-T at Bathurst made the car a viral sensation, but also rang alarm bells at Motorsport Australia and triggered changes to Sports Sedan rules for 2023.

That included a 1.5kg/bhp weight-to-power minimum for all entries, figures that must be declared on a ‘Vehicle Performance Declaration’ form, as well as a 35-pound boost limit for turbos.

Although Sherriff says that at 1470kg and around 1000bhp in its February trim the Skyline was not far off that marker, he has not raced it since Bathurst, believing it would be uncompetitive.

Sherriff’s Skyline in action at Bathurst in February. Pic: Supplied

The car was built from a road-going, grey-import Skyline, still featuring the standard bodyshell and suspension geometry – a far cry from a full, spaceframe Sports Sedan.

“I’m not prepared to run that car as a fairly standard car, effectively, with a little bit of engine and some dampers,” Sherriff told V8 Sleuth.

“Obviously, the cars you’re running against in Sports Sedans, the first five or six are in no way standard cars, so I decided if I was going to play, it had to be with something comparable.”

Sherriff’s solution has come via one of his customers, Matt Longhurst, who was building an R34 model GT-R for Sports Sedan/Time Attack competition.

Longhurst has instead opted to have Pace Innovations build him a bespoke Sports Sedan, leaving his previous project up for grabs.

Sherriff’s new car will hit the track later this year. Pic: Supplied

“That car was about 80 percent complete as a Time Attack car, so I bought it and I’ve put a transaxle in it and am making a Sports Sedan out of that,” explained Sherriff.

Although still based on a road car bodyshell rather than a full spaceframe, Sherriff says the new package will be leaps and bounds better than the R32.

The R34 will run the same 2.7-litre, billet-block Nissan engine as the R32. With the car weighing the category minimum 1125kg, it’ll be tuned to 750bhp to fit the required power-to-weight ratio.

Like its predecessor, the new car will run in two-wheel-drive form due to Sports Sedan regulations heavily penalising four-wheel-drive machines.

The new machine is a floorpan car. Pic: Supplied

“There’s really no standard car left,” Sherriff explained. “The bit where you put your feet and the taillights are Nissan, but that’s about it.

“It’s got motorsport CNC alloy uprights and double-A suspension, it’s a really trick bit of gear. Weighing 400kgs less (than the R32) is going to be a complete gamechanger.

“It’s better than 50:50 weight balance. The other car was typical front-engined Nissan where it’s closer to 58:42, which is a huge compromise with these cars.

“The aerodynamics on this car will also be far more advanced. The other one was a quick patch-up job to make sure it didn’t go upside-down.

“It’s yet to been seen if I can drive it fast enough to run toward the front of the field, but the car from an engineering and weight point of view should be competitive.”

Sherriff will tune the engine to 750bhp. Pic: Supplied

Sherriff plans to have the new car on track in his native Tasmania before the end of the year, ready for a full attack on the 2024 Sports Sedan Series.

“I’ve spent the last three weeks fabricating everything, intercooler pipework, overflow bottles, everything is made for it,” he said.

“I’ve pulled it apart and it’s now gone to paint. In about a week and a half it’ll be ready to start up.

“The aim is to run it at the last meeting, which is Baskerville on November 12. We’ll dyno it towards the end of this month, sticker it, test it and then roll it out, all going well at that meeting.”

It’ll be finished in an iconic R34 colour, ‘Bayside Blue’.

A glimpse of the new car’s colour. Pic: Supplied

“It’s all dry carbon, but I want it to look like an R34, which it very much does,” he says. “I want somebody to look at it and go ‘that’s just like my stock R34’.”

The only questions Sherriff won’t answer about the new car are around top speed – a sensitive topic given the storm created by his previous machine.

Leading Sports Sedans at Bathurst this weekend have topped out just below 300km/h; a speed that Motorsport Australia appears comfortable with.

It appears unlikely that the sort of top speeds achieved by the now infamous Sherriff R32 will be seen again.

Brad Sherriff’s Skyline on home soil at Symmons Plains. Pic: MJB Photography

That car has meanwhile been repaired from its crash in the final race at the Bathurst 12 Hour and is now up for sale.

Sherriff has fielded offers above $200,000, but is in no rush to sell.

“I really don’t need to sell it, but I’d like to see somebody run it,” he said.

“There’s a fair bit of interest from overseas, the dollars are really good, but I’d like to see it run in Australia. I’ve had it a long time and that’s what I prefer.”

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