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Nissan v Porsche Ring rivalry ramps up

Nissan’s motorsport branch NISMO is leading development of the upcoming R36 GT-R.

The next generation R36 GT-R scheduled for 2015 will use a hybrid system – which means we’re likely to see more track warfare break out as Nissan challenges the current king of the Nurburgring, the Porsche 918 Spyder.

When the current R35 GT-R launched, Nissan triggered a series of lap time skirmishes with Porsche at the renowned circuit, as both brands repeatedly beat each other’s Nurburgring times, with Porsche famously accusing Nissan of cheating.

In September, Porsche’s newly released 918 Spyder used a hybrid system to return a thundering 6 minute 57 second record lap. The ball is now in Nissan’s court, with Nissan’s motorsport branch NISMO leading development of the upcoming R36 GT-R.

If Nissan falls short of the task, Ron Dennis has already vowed to claim the record with the McLaren P1 – another recently released hybrid hypercar. Last week, Ferrari’s own V12 hybrid hypercar, LaFerrari, was caught hot on Porsche’s lap time tail at the Nurburgring trying to shake up its German rival’s dominance.

The NISMO version of the current generation R35 GT-R has also been testing at the Nurburgring, although Nissan is not saying what time it has achieved yet. Due next year, it will be the send off for the GT-R before the hybrid next generation takes over.

Nissan’s vice president Andy Palmer told Autocar the brand is very happy with the time that former F1 driver Sebastian Buemi has achieved in the NISMO GT-R. "He was flat-out in places that other people brake in. His lack of experience at the ‘Ring didn’t hold him back," Palmer said.

But without a hybrid drivetrain, Nissan may need to wait until the next generation GT-R for a chance to reclaim its glory. Palmer confirmed that Nissan will continue to use the Nurburgring as a benchmark for performance progress. This indicates the brand takes Nurburgring times very seriously, despite already being quicker than similarly priced competitors.

The current $170,800 GT-R uses a 404kW, 3.8-litre twin turbo V6 to combat supercars that cost – in some cases – in excess of a million dollars. Kinishi Tanuma, lead developer of the next generation Nissan flagship supercar has already stated he wants the GT-R quality and value improved, hinting that the new model will remain relatively affordable.

At a similar price as the current car, the next GT-R may not need to be king of the ring to prove its worth. But with Tanuma focusing on quality, NISMO has partnered with Williams Formula one team to focus on performance. When it arrives, the R36 GT-R may just steal the Nurburgring thunder from the million dollar supercar party one more time.