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HomeNewsClassic CarsThe only written-off Australian Nissan GT-R

The only written-off Australian Nissan GT-R

WITH the Repco Supercars Championship finale at Adelaide this weekend, it’s timely to take a look back at one of the biggest crashes from the days when touring cars supported the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in the ‘City of Churches’.

Gibson Motorsport had completed the best part of a season developing the new Nissan GT-R, which by this stage was far from the Godzilla it was to become.

Reliability was key area to improve, but the potential was on display through Mark Skaife’s initial run in the 1990 Australian Touring Car Championship at Mallala.

Its sheer power and launch off tight corners via its four-wheel-drive system provided an insight into what to expect when the GT-R was fully developed, though a hub failed when chasing leader Peter Brock.

Richards took the wheel at Wanneroo and finished fourth but dominated the final round to win the Oran Park final round to clinch Nissan’s first Australian Touring Car Championship crown.

The team skipped the Sandown 500 and showed pace at Bathurst, though driveline issues delayed the car and Richards and Skaife finished a delayed 18th.

Next on the Australian motorsport calendar was the Adelaide Grand Prix support races, known as the Ansett Air Freight Challenge.

Nissan went in with two GT-Rs for the first time, but one failed to make race day.

During qualifying both GT-Rs were fighting for pole position when Skaife careered out of control entering the Brabham Straight, rolling it into the wall and bouncing back on track.

“I was coming onto the back straight, it was a very fast section of road,” Skaife explained.

“The reason why I crashed is that Jimmy and I were fighting for pole position. He’d done a lap time and I was on my out lap to start my lap effectively. The car slid up onto the kerb, broke the bottom out of the wheel and turned straight over on its roof, firing into the fence very, very fast.

“It started to wear through the roof of the car onto my helmet and basically pushed the car down once it hit the fence. As hard as I pressed the brake pedal, it didn’t slow down! It certainly fired into the fence going hard on its roof, it spun back onto the track, it caught on fire and I couldn’t get out.

“A guy in a BMW called Joe Sommariva, Colin Bond and Peter Brock actually pulled up to get me out because at that stage the marshals were unable to open the door.

“So it was a pretty ugly foray into GT-R land.”

Skaife’s car – the first-built of the GT-Rs and used in the last three ATCC rounds and originally the #1T car at Bathurst that later became car #1 for the race – was destroyed.

It was chopped up and disposed of, the only Nissan Motorsport race car from the Group C and Group A eras to have been destroyed and no longer exist.

Four of the five Aussie-built Nissan GT-Rs remain – three factory cars and the car built by Gibson Motorsport for Bob Forbes that raced in GIO colours.

This story also appears on the Repco Garage website.

For more news and content like this story, as well as videos competitions and podcasts, visit the Repco Garage here.

WATCH: Mark Skaife’s 1990 Adelaide Nissan GT-R roll over

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