1990 Nissan NPT-90 Group C By Pendine
- November 4, 2018
- Posted by Marc Enger
Following five years of consistently developing the GTP ZX-Turbo, Nissan conceded that with increased pressure from both Toyota and Jaguar, a whole new car would be needed to stay ahead of the game and defend their championship. NPTI, Nissan’s North American motorsports division, were tasked with construction of this all-new race car. Abandoning the original Lola-based GTP ZX-Turbo chassis, the NPT-90 would have a rounder, narrower cockpit, smaller duct work and vertical turbocharger snorkels on each side of the car.
The design team was led by Yoshi Suzuka. The GTP cars had relied heavily on ground-effect aero for their performance, and this continued, Suzuka’s new design featuring massive tunnels that ran on either side of the cockpit and exited behind the rear suspension. Additional downforce at the front was generated by small diffusers mounted ahead of the front wheels. The rear featured a full-width wing, which served predominantly for adjusting the balance. Chassis guru Trevor Harris filled the space left by Suzuka with a bespoke chassis. This was constructed from a honeycomb structure sandwiched by aluminum sheets. To clean up the airflow into the tunnel, the front springs were mounted high in the monocoque and were actuated by rockers.
The NPT-90 was fitted with a further development of the twin-turbo V6, displacing just under three litres.
Initially entered alongside the outgoing GTP ZX-T, the first NPT-90 made its debut in May 1990 during the Topeka round of the IMSA GTP Championship. At only its third race the new Nissan won, driven by reigning champion Geoff Brabham and Derek Daly. Despite fierce competition from the All American Racers Team Toyota-Eagles, the NPT-90 claimed a further two victories before the 1990 season closed. In 1991 the winning streak continued, with the NPT-90 claiming a further 3 race wins and multiple podium finishes, including the headline 12 Hours of Sebring . A very consistent season from the two Nissans enabled Geoff Brabham to score his fourth championship win in a row.
Built in 1990, chassis 90-03 is the NPT-90 that won the 1991 12 Hours of Sebring in the hands of Geoff Brabham, helping him secure his IMSA championship.
Its debut came towards the end of the 1990 season on the 9th September at Tampa, where it qualified 2nd and finished 5th overall. This was repeated two months later at the Del Mar Grand Prix of San Diego.
These were just a warm up act for 90-03; its greatest performance would come in March 1991 at the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring, leading a spectacular Nissan 1-2 finish. A month later in April, 90-03 ran at the Miami Grand Prix where it finished 3rd, closely followed by Road Atlanta.
At Road Atlanta the Nissan suffered an incident in practice and could not be repaired in time for the race, proving to be the catalyst that put the two valve NPT-90/03 into retirement. Its replacement, an updated 1991 model and spare car, was used for the remainder of the 1991/92 season.
Initially, NPT-90/03 remained in storage as a potential spare car, ready to be updated and pressed back into action should the moment arrive. However, this moment never came, eventually being sold by the factory before being restored in the late 1990s by Matrix Motors. Once restored, it was bought by privateer racer Peter Stoneburg who in 2002 was invited by Sebring International Raceway to take part in a display of previous race winners in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the great 12 Hour race.
Acquired by the current owner in 2012, 90-03 has been maintained regardless of cost by renowned Group C specialists Phil Stott Motorsport. They have run the car in a wide array of events throughout Europe, with the current owner enjoying much success including a 1st place finish at the Historic Grand Prix of Zandvoort in 2014.
The NPT-90 was the result of a $25 million annual budget that ensured ground breaking development; they were devastatingly fast and all but untouchable. With a V6 turbo that would give at least 750bhp during races and a rumored 1100bhp without restrictors, combined with aerodynamics that produced almost four tonnes of downforce at 200mph (which is over twice as much downforce as a modern Sports Prototype) it’s no wonder the NPT-90 is one of the quickest closed wheel racers ever built. Chassis 90-03 is highly competitive, and boasts not just a superb history but is absolutely on the button and ready to race.
Report by pendine.com