Here at last: the first of what is expected to be many customer cars from NISSAN. The all-new GT-R RS.
Many expect the GT-R RC to become the flagship car of the Super Taikyu series – and why not!
Weather had been pretty dismal since the previous day, and the start of the timed four-hour race was decidedly wet.
Holding its own against the established rivals as the cars head into turn 1 for the first time.
One of the Porsche 911 GT3 entries about to get swallowed up by a brace of Evo 9s.
Around the outside: The ST4 class Integra (DC5) has actually passed these ST3 rivals on the run to the first corner.
An ST2 entry getting hounded by ST3 and ST4 machinery. A total of 38 cars from five classes took the start (35 of them finished!).
Showing its pace in the wet, the #3 Mitsubishi Evo X was blindingly quick all afternoon.
But it was this car, having had to start from the back (this is the #28 machine, the sister #1 car lead), that most impressed with its outright pace.
Not as cool as this car of course – fantastic to see it out on track.
Dominating the ST2 class from the get-go, the #20 Evo 9 was flying!
…followed by this nearly identical version
Among the RX-7 entries, this car was starting to make inroads in the first hour…
…though the same couldn't be said for the Okabe Jidousha guys – theirs was the first car to retire.
The run-down from turn 1, those Mitsis are about to devour the pink Mazda.
Back to the Media Centre for some much-needed coffee – and just in time for the debuting GT-R RS's 2nd driver-switch.
Conditions just got wetter as the day wore on…
…but it was no deterrent to the cars on track
Heading up the hill from the Dunlop Corner
The GT-R RS looking every bit the part
Will the teams currently running the Z33 Fairlady Zs make the switch (both in class and in model) to Nissan's latest machine?
The other end of the spectrum, but equally as competitive. ST4 is populated entirely by Honda machinery; Integras like this one, Civics, S2000, and even a UK-built Euro-spec Civic Type R (not entered this weekend).
Soldiering on after an unscheduled early pit stop dropped the car by a handful of laps – something that even the rain couldn't make up for. The GT-R was rocket-quick on the straights, but looked a handful in the twisty bits – was it the rain or the weight of the car?
The only Honda NSX (NA2) currently in the series. The stock lines are refreshingly uncluttered – what a beauty!
Coming through the second apex at Dunlop.
Nearly three hours in and the #20 Evo is still leading ST2 – by a mile!
Conditions steadily worsened – with visibility dropping to dangerously low levels.
The Safety Car was eventually called out – and stayed out for nearly 30 minutes, such is the microcosm around the great mountain. It was probably blazing hot sunshine 15 minutes' drive away in any direction.
The #28 BMW Z4M Coupe almost got to the front, losing 2nd place in the final 15 minutes. Still, third place from starting at the back is a commendable result.
And while the debutant didn't win anything like a step on the podium, to have lasted four hours in those conditions in its first race is a testament to the car's almighty potential. It'll be worth watching just when – and who will be the first teams to order the convincing-looking beast.
- Len Clarke