December 21, 2012 9:48 PM |
Posted By: David_Yu
Rated 3.5 out of 5.0 by 6 members
Fast Fleet blog
So having proven the newly fitted Litchfield suspension was a) massively more comfortable and compliant on the road and b) faster around Bedford Autodrome in the hands of Dickie Meaden (see evo issue 178), it was time for me to take it to the ultimate proving ground and the GT-R's spiritual home: the Nurburgring.
Regular readers will know that Stealth Zilla is no stranger to the Ring and indeed was there back in March on the superb Destination Nurburgring event which was my first chance to drive the combined GP circuit/Nordschliefe VLN race layout.
This time, "DN6" as the event was titled, offered the mouthwatering prospect of driving the Nordschliefe one day followed by the epic Spa Francorchamps circuit the next. The last time I managed to combine both venues into one trip was way back when I had my Ferrari F355 Spider and a certain Harry Metcalfe and I both ended up with wet bottoms when we both neglected to raise the roofs on our cars overnight and there was a torrential downpour. Well, I neglected to raise the roof on my Spider, Harry had the slightly better excuse that his Lotus 340R did not actually have one...
Anyway this time it was October and not really convertible weather, although thankfully dry. The drive over was blissfully smooth, with the Litchfield suspension doing a very passable luxury limo impersonation even across Belgium's rougher patches of autoroute.
Following the obligatory hot rock steak dinner at the Pistenklause with a bunch of fellow GT-R owners, the track day at the Nordschleife was fantastic fun with Iain Litchfield and his team providing support at the awesome Capricorn facility (which GT-R Jedi Master Mizuno-san and his team use every year to hone the next model year of GT-R). This turned out to be very handy when the Carbonetic Spec-C pads I replaced the superlative Spec-Rs with, gave up the ghost (no doubt aided by Dickie's laptime setting at Bedford before) and Iain supplied and fitted some Pagid RS29s to the front Alcon 400mm discs.
The GT-R definitely resisted understeer better than on the standard suspension and the extra compliance aided confidence and pace on the bumpier sections. However I felt initial turn-in could be sharper still and Iain's team adjusted the Eibach rear anti-roll bar up a notch whilst fitting the Pagid pads in preparation for Spa the next day.
Spa's a breezy hour or so's drive from the Ring and we stayed at the comfortable La Source hotel right by the circuit.
It rained continuously overnight (reminiscent of that night many years ago when the Ferrari's interior got drowned), but the following morning was mercifully dry. Of course the track itself was wet and ridiculously slippy. Few cars ventured out and none at full pelt. However the GT-Rs in attendance were dancing gracefully around the track, using their advanced yet involving AWD systems to claw traction out of the damp tarmac.
With the VDC in R mode, the rear end was hilariously mobile with big slides available in any gear and at any speed but with a safety net there should things get too far out of hand. The stiffer setting on the rear anti-roll bar seemed to have tweaked the handling balance to perfection, with almost zero initial understeer to spoil the fun. After a few sessions in R mode, I felt brave enough to try a couple with VDC Off and the amount of opposite lock required went up to laugh out loud levels, but always with plenty of feedback and way more traction than all the non-GT-Rs there.
As the track dried, the sideways fun lessened, the speeds went up and so did the speed of the other cars. But apart from the odd race car or two, there was nothing quicker than Stealth Zilla that we encountered, despite me being a bit of a wimp at Eau Rouge. (I dare you to take it flat out in a near 2 tonne car with 620hp and virtually no downforce!)
The new Pagids were fantastic with smooth, never-ending stopping power and the Litchfield suspension passed its first European jaunt with flying colours.
As ever, despite being one of the very fastest cars on track, the cruise back to the Eurotunnel was done in effortless comfort and at a decent pace.
Over three and a half years after taking delivery, Stealth Zilla continues to blow me away with its breadth and depth of abilities and sheer enjoyment.
Have a great Christmas and New Year and catch up with more Zilla chronicles both in the magazine and here.
Photos: Nick Barrett at Xtreme Sports Photography
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