Russell Newman has one hell of a party trick up his sleeve.
To the average Joe, launch control means a lot of loud banging, flames
shooting out the exhaust and an indecent amount of performance from a standing
start. For the more technically minded, it means raw fuel igniting in the
exhaust manifold to ensure the turbochargers are spoolin’ hard enough to deliver
14 psi boost - and that’s before stepping off the clutch pedal!
When Russell pops the clutch of his targa prep’d R32 Skyline GT-R, your body
is subjected to unbelievable acceleration. Not even a set of semi-slick race
tyres can assure traction; the mighty GT-R slews sideways with wheelspin before
the AWD system hooks up and you’re flung like an object from a catapult.
The off-the-line performance of this GT-R is simply astonishing. And, from
all accounts, it’s considerably more than a stock gearbox can handle...
What you’re looking at is a Japanese import R32 GT-R that was purchased by
Russell about twelve months ago. Back then it was nothing special - a bit of a
roughie with a sick engine. Russell investigated the cost of rebuilding the
original RB26DETT engine but leapt at the rare opportunity to purchase a brand
new R33 GT-R N1 motor. Russell says that compared to the standard GT-R, the R33 N1 engine boasts upgraded water
and oil pumps.
There’s been no need to disassemble the N1 motor except to slip in a pair of
HKS camshafts with OS Gikken adjustable sprockets. The only other internal mod
is a metal head gasket.
A Koyo aluminium radiator keeps the RB26 running cool while a baffled sump
and large capacity oil catch-can take care of lubrication issues. Given the competition application of the
car, these are
To the side of the new engine you’ll find a pair of N1 turbochargers (which
were purchased separately from the engine). These turbos suck through an A’PEXi
induction system comprising twin cast alloy elbows and filters. At the time of
photography, a custom 4 inch exhaust was fitted but, unfortunately, this system
exceeded the maximum allowable noise level for competition events. A Gonzo 4
inch system now provides effective muffling together with minimal
Russell says the N1 turbochargers are relatively small compared to what’s
employed in other modified GT-Rs. Their advantage is that they boost nice an’
early and provide a useable rev range - something that’s often overlooked in
targa style race cars. Boost pressure peaks at around 23 psi and, interestingly,
the standard intercooler does a fine job maintaining charge temps – as shown
by the vehicle’s data logging system. The standard Nissan blow-off valves
remain in service, though now venting to atmosphere.
The electronic brain is an Autronic stand-alone programmable computer, which
relies on a MAP sensor load input. The Autronic controls fuel, ignition, boost,
launch control, rev limit and provides a data-logging function. The fuel system
currently comprises a 044 Bosch Motorsport fuel pump, Sard pressure regulator
and rail, a larger diameter supply line and 660cc injectors. A surge tank or
fuel cell will soon complete the system.
The ignition incorporates an Autronic CDI unit for maximum spark energy.
After being tuned by C-N-J Motorsport, peak power is a thumping 330kW at all
four wheels (as measured on a Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno with 23 psi boost and
98 RON pump fuel). Russell says they’ve seen an easy 350kW at all fours when
experimenting with BP race fuel. Just coz they were curious...
Copping the torture of the hard-launching RB26DETT is an Exedy twin-plate
clutch that’s modified for extra bite. At the time of our photo shoot, a
standard R32 GT-R gearbox had been slung in until a PPG 5 speed dog ‘box
arrived. We’re told the original gearbox dropped its bundle after running a
couple of low 11 second passes at the Dutton GP rally. The replacement gearbox
is a temporary fitment that must be treated gently (relatively
And what’s the car’s fastest quarter mile time, you ask? Try a bloody fast
11.1 ET at 127 mph. Russell says his GT-R goes into the record books with the
fastest quarter mile pass in the history of the Dutton Rally. Now that’s a claim
to fame! The car also winds out to about 270 km/h on the back straight of the
Russell tells us the R32 GT-R is his first proper racecar. As such, there’s
been a bit of learning along the way...
For example, it was quickly discovered that the standard GT-R brakes aren’t
suitable for race purposes. When, after a day of competition, the pedal sank to the floor and a set of discs
was destroyed, it became obvious a major upgrade was
needed... At present, a set of high-performance pads is the only braking system
mod but Russell is looking forward to a pair of 6-pot front anchors.
The suspension could probably use a bit more development as well. The
ex-Japan Tein struts have been reconditioned and Russell switched to softer
Eibach springs but he still doesn’t know much about the damper rates. A pair of
adjustable castor rods, adjustable top control arms and rear suspension
pineapples (which replace softer rubber bushes) are also installed. Interestingly, the rear HICAS steering system has been
removed to enhance high-speed stability.
Wheels are 17 inch Volk Racing wearing 225/40 Dunlop semi-slick (but street
The cabin is standard GT-R fare except Russell runs a dual 12 inch sub-woofer
sound system for road duties. These woofers come out for motorsport appearances
and, for certain events, the rear seat is removed to fit a pair of fire
extinguishers. Russell has also fitted a Recaro driver’s seat and harness – a
combination that we’re told made a tremendous difference to vehicle control.
As a newcomer to the motorsport arena, Russell is quickly making a name for
himself amongst some decorated drivers. Obviously, he has a lot of natural
ability but with a gentle pat on the bonnet he says it’s the car that makes it
"It does everything right – it starts first time and never misses," he
Except, of course, when that bang-bang system is activated!
As we prepared this article, Russell had just taken his GT-R to victory in the 2005
NSW Dutton Rally. His mighty GT-R came 1st outright in the driver category
and 3rd outright in the team category (with co-driver Mark Berry hampered by a
split heater hose). The only major mods since our photo shoot are the fitment of
AP 6-pot front brakes, R34 GT-R wheels, torque-split controller and a PPG dog
As a bonus, the car ran its fastest ever quarter mile time – 10.85 seconds
at 131.9 mph. Oh, and that was achieved on street tyres! The car also ran 19.0
seconds over the 800m sprint – the only car in a field of ninety-five to stop
the stopwatches at less than 20 seconds.
See – we told you this GT-R goes!
C-N-J Motorsport +617 3290 3966
Russell would also like to send a big thanks to the guys at C-N-J, PPG and