1990 Nissan R90CK

One of Japan’s finest endurance prototypes.

Despite Europe producing the most popular, and often quickest Group C entrants, I’m often drawn to Japan’s output of endurance machinery. Take the various Toyota spaceships and the 7-series Mazdas for example - it’s certainly hard to ignore them. However, Nissan prototypes seem to get slightly less attention. There were plenty of them, and the naming conventions get confusing, so I understand why - but I wanted to shine a spotlight on my (second) favourite Group C car.

Spaceship

Spaceship

The R90CK is one of the meanest cars ever built. One look at the thing, and you know it means business. With a 3.5 litre V8 behind the driver’s seat, the Nissan put a tremendous amount of power to the rear wheels. Courtesy of a magnesium-alloy block, aluminium-alloy head, gear-driven cam and a pair of massive IHI turbochargers, the R90 pumps out 800 bhp and 578 lb-ft of torque, sent to the fat rear slicks via a Hewland VGC 5-speed manual.

Tub, with optional twin-turbo V8

Tub, with optional twin-turbo V8

A carbon/kevlar monocoque chassis forms the core of the car, utilising pushrod-actuated double wishbone suspension and adjustable Koni dampers to provide immense mechanical grip and create a strong basis to maximise the potential aero grip provided by the carbon/kevlar body. Ventilated and grooved discs with AP Racing calipers slow the 920kg prototype down from speed. 320-section fronts with 350-section rear tyres keep the CK planted.

Sneak peak of rain tyres

Sneak peak of rain tyres

At the 1990 running of Le Mans, the R90CK failed to live up to the promise not showed in qualifying. The polesitter - Blundell, Bailey and Brancatelli’s R90CK - set a blistering 3:27.020 lap time, yet failed to finish. The highest placed CK finished 17th, with the other 3 retiring. Not the greatest showing, it must be said, but not bad enough to dampen my feelings towards the car. Just look at it! The fact that Nissan’s R90CK and R90CP are such different beasts is a fascinating prospect to me.

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