Roadway>> Driving At Bathurst With A R35 Gt-r

We all have a list. Things we want to do before we die, and for me one of them, until last week, was driving a GT-R around the legendary Mount Panorama track at Bathurst in Australia.  Everything seemed to come together for that eventful Sunday, leaving Sydney just in time to allow us to arrive in the town of Bathurst in late afternoon.

Escaping the tight confines of the city meant that for once, during our short trip downunder, we had some empty roads ahead of us. Armed with a brand new R35 GT-R Nissan Australia kindly lent us, one may think this all this sounds very exciting but, once again, it was the draconian speed limits that put a damper on our enjoyment. It wasn't all that bad though, I just let the GT-R go into cruise mode and savored the picturesque scenery as it rolled by. Peter from Modified Magazine, as excited as I was to see the legendary track, was right behind me in his Mazda 3 MPS with Rod snapping away in the passenger seat.

It took us about three hours on regular country roads to arrive to the town of Bathurst…

…just in time to take it all in before the sun set for the day.

You may be wondering why on earth we are featuring a race track for out "Roadway" week, but when not in use for motorsport activities "Mount Panorama" is open to the public, becoming a regular road that allows access to the top of the hill. As soon as we arrived I had to park the GT-R on the inside of the last corner and take it all in for a second. This place is where the Skyline GT-R became known as "Godzilla," during the Group A era of the Bathurst 1000 km race. The turbocharged GT-R was unstoppable against the Ford Sierra and V8 Holdens and Fords, winning the 1991 and 1992 race, the latter upsetting many people when the race was suspended due to rain. The GT-R only raced here three years but showed the world how competitive it was. From 1993 onwards race regulations were changed, allowing only the V8 Supercars and 2 liter Super Tourers to compete, marking the end of the all wheel drive turbocharged reign.

As I made my way down the main straight I spotted a very cool machine, an original Datsun S30 parked up along the pit wall. The owner, who had recently taken it out of the garage where it was sitting for well over a decade, was getting some nice shots of it. Apparently in the morning a bunch of S30 owners gathered there for a meet. It was pretty cool seeing the first Nissan sports car parked along side the latest one!

So let's take this drive around Mount Panorama! After heading down the main straight, by the way that is Peter shooting the Mazda 3 on the side there…

…we take a 90º left hander, or Hell Corner, that sends you up this long straight that begins to gently climb up the hill..

…with a little crest towards the middle. The road continues upwards…

…and swings into a sharp right at the Quarry Corner with the incline becoming much steeper now. Being a regular road the speed limit is 60 km/h so I had to continuously take very deep breaths to keep calm and fight that uncontrollable urge to just step on the throttle!

Turn 3 and 4, "The Cutting," is where things become a little more technical with a nice and tight left to right transition.

Form there it's on to a few more gentle and faster corners (not for me in the GT-R, as I tried my best to stick to the 60 km/h speed limit!) at the top of the hill.

One I reached the top I parked up and enjoyed the view…

…before heading across the "Skyline," aptly named as you can really get an incredible view of the surround countryside.

It's then down through The Esses where the descent begins…

…and where once again a photo opportunity arose!

Race cars shoot down this section at insane speed before braking hard…

…and setting up for "The Dipper." This first time I took this miniature Laguna Seca Corkscrew my jaw literally dropped into my lap as I remember seeing videos of the Skyline GT-Rs and the Ford Sierra RS500s blast past here almost touching the concrete wall on both the way in and out of the corner. The guys that race here really get my respect! 

From then on the road opens up, past the Forrest's Elbow…

…and down onto the Conrod Straight…

…where Rod and I had to stop for a few more pictures to try and give a sense of the elevation change. Mount Panorama seems to be the place to go for joggers or for a quiet Sunday afternoon walk taking in the amazing scenery. 

Of course down in the antipodes the seasons are opposite, so as the colors hint its currently autumn there.

Being a regular road means you can go up Mount Panorama both ways, but make sure you stick to those speed limits…

…as big brother is always watching!  LOL, I wonder if they leave this sign up for the Bathurst 1000!  

Down the back straight cars would reach silly speeds…

…before getting hard on the brakes and setting up for "The Chase"…

…the last series of corners before completing the lap at Murray's Corner further on past the Armor All bridge.

With the sun quickly setting it was the last chance to get a few nice shots of the GT-R, a car that once again has proven what an engineering feat Nissan has achieved. Driving it around in Australia I was able to appreciate its more civilized side, something I hadn't had the chance to ever do in all the previous drives I've had with it in Japan and the US. I left the dual clutch transmission in automatic most of the time, the suspension in the comfort setting and let it do its thing in "Lexus mode" as Rod called it. On the 200 km drive back to Sydney the car managed to return a barely believable 11.1 km/h, 26.1 mpg from a 3.8L twin turbo heavyweight is pretty amazing.

The GT-R is pretty much the epitome of the modern supercar, a vehicle that can rip up any race track it's unleashed on, but with a flick of a switch can be transformed into a comfortable enough car for every day driving. This said, it was very difficult to enjoy in Australia, as I found myself paying more attention to the speedometer than anything else. It could have been motoring nirvana, but in the end, it was more like motoring tourture!

Nonetheless I did get to drive one of the most influential supercars of the moment around the most legendary track in Australia. I am a very happy man!

Mount Panorama

Nissan Australia

-Dino Dalle Carbonare

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