NISSAN’S SNEAKY SWINDLE OF THE BATHURST STEWARDS

Gibson Motorsport had two Nissan GT-Rs at its disposal for the 1990 Bathurst 1000. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

THE mighty Nissan GT-R’s rapid charge into the lead in the early laps of the 1990 Bathurst 1000 graphically illustrated how the four-wheel-drive supercar had every other Group A touring car covered on outright speed.

Starting its first ‘Great Race’ from 11th on the grid, Jim Richards wielded ‘Godzilla’s superior horsepower and traction to pick off car after car to hit the front after just nine laps.

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Many of the passes were captured live by the car’s RaceCam unit – including Richards famously giving Ford Sierra pilot Klaus Niedzwiedz a cheeky wave goodbye as he took the lead up Mountain Straight.

The car, in the hands of Richards and Mark Skaife, led 37 laps but finished 18th after losing 15 laps with a driveline issue, but its potency had been proven.

However, ‘Godzilla’ may not have stolen the show in its Bathurst debut but for a bit of sneakiness by the Gibson Motorsport team.

As Fred Gibson told the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco, the team covertly swapped its #1T training car for its #1 race car on the eve of the race!

Listen to Part 2 of Fred Gibson on the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco in the player below!

The team went to Bathurst with a pair of GT-Rs: a brand new machine as its race car, carrying the #1, and the team’s original GT-R – the car Richards used to seal victory in the 1990 Australian Touring Car Championship – as its #1T training car.

The team endured a torrid lead-up plagued by a persistent issue with the race car’s four-wheel-drive system.

Come the end of qualifying on Friday, the #1 car was only 11th fastest and consequently missed the cut for the Top 10 Shootout.

Richards pilots the #1T GT-R out of Griffins Bend on Thursday afternoon. Pic: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers

“The four-wheel-drive was playing up on (the race car) and we didn’t know how to fix it,” Gibson told the V8 Sleuth Podcast.

“I said, forget fixing it, we’ll swap cars! That fixed it!”

After running both cars in Saturday afternoon’s final practice session, the decision was made to swap the cars’ identities overnight in order to allow Richards and Skaife to race the trouble-free T-car without alerting the stewards.

The Gibson crew swapped the doors on the two cars to help sell the swindle – the two chassis had different mirrors that would have been an obvious giveaway – and removed the ‘T’ markings from the bonnet, rear guards and roof.

However, there was one key part that needed to be swapped between the cars which they needed outside help with: Channel 7’s RaceCam unit.

The ‘#1’ GT-R during the Sunday morning warm-up – note the white mirrors carried by the original #1 car. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

“I went to Channel 7: I want the camera out of that car and put in that car,” Gibson said.

“They were up all night!”

The swap completed, it was a problem-free ‘#1’ Nissan GT-R that rolled out onto the grid on Sunday morning for Richards to unleash an unforgettable charge.

The ‘Godzilla’ swap is just one story from the wide-ranging, two-part chat with Gibson about his Hall of Fame career as both a driver and team owner in Australian touring car racing.

Will Dale is V8 Sleuth's Head of Content - Digital. He began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.