Bathurst blast from the past: 1991, Godzilla reaches its zenith

Fred Gibson and Nissan Motorsport unveiled the R32 GT-R Skyline on an unsuspecting Australian public at the end of the 1990 Australian Touring Car Championship, helping Jim Richards wrap up the title ahead of the horde of Ford Sierras that had dominated the ATCC in previous seasons, which was Gentleman Jim’s fourth title in seven years.

Still, it wasn’t until 1991 that the car known as Godzilla truly earned it’s legendary nickname, as the awesome 640 horsepower from the twin-turbo, four-wheel drive machine powered Richards and Mark Skaife to win 7 out 9 races in the championship, 6 of them being 1-2 finishes, with Tony Longhurst in a BMW M3 winning at Amaroo and Lakeside to become the only non-Nissan to win a race.

Thanks to the points system requiring drivers to drop their worst round, Richards won the Gibson Motorsport title fight with Skaife, and continuing Godzilla’s reign of terror on Group A racing in Australia, Mark Gibbs and Rohan Onslow would win the Sandown 500 in the Gibson developed GIO Racing Skyline (Owned by Bob Forbes), and come Bathurst, the Skyline reached it’s zenith.

Skaife set provisional pole position on the Friday, then on Saturday, he absolutely dominated the Top 10 shootout to set a new Bathurst touring car lap record 2:12.63 (The first driver in history to lap Bathurst in 2:12), taking pole by 1.2 seconds ahead of Gibbs in a Skyline front row lockout, and it should be noted Gibbs himself was a full second faster than Glenn Seton’s Peter Jackson Ford Sierra in 3rd, such was Godzilla’s dominance.

Then, late into the race, with Richards pummeling the field into submission on his way to victory, Skaife transferred into the No.2 Gibson Nissan, which was being driven by Drew Price and Garry Waldon, and in the midst of a late race charge, Skaife set a new race lap record, although the No.2 car didn’t finish due to mechanical issues.

And finally, completing the rare Bathurst grand slam, Skaife and Richards won the race by a lap in record time, ahead of 1990 race winners Win Percy and Allan Grice in a Holden Racing Team Commodore, giving Nissan their first win at Mount Panorama after 20 years of toil, with Gibbs and Rohan Onslow finishing 3rd to win the Australian Endurance Championship thanks to their win at Sandown.

Now, please enjoy this quintessentially 1990s highlights package that Nissan Australia had produced, you’ll love how early ’90s it is – The booming guitar-driven music, a montage playing at the start, and importantly, the softly spoken narrator.

Fun fact – Leon Daphne later became the President of Richmond

A fun fact about the 1991 race – Thanks to a lack of Safety Cars, Skaife & Richards’ winning time was 6 hours, 19 minutes & 14.80 second, breaking the old record by 4 minutes.

That time stood until 2010, when Skaife won with Craig Lowndes in a Triple Eight Holden Commodore and smashed the old record by 7 minutes.

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