Watch – Le Mans racer Al Buncombe drives iconic GT500 Nissan GT-R at Fuji
Ride on-board with Nismo Athlete Alex Buncombe as he navigates Fuji Speedway in an iconic Nissan racer
If you grew up during the Playstation era of videogames, you’ll already be familiar with this car. You’ll know its black and yellow colour scheme, you’ll know the sound, and you’ll be more than accustomed to the circuit.
The Gran Turismo videogame series has long included Japan’s GT500 racing cars in its vehicle lineup. and the Pennzoil Nismo Skyline GT-R is a stalwart of that selection.
The GT500 class opened in 1996, still under the JGTC banner rather than the modern Super GT series, and Skyline GT-Rs were a familiar sight from that point until its racing replacement in 2004.
In Pennzoil livery, the R33-generation car took its first championship victory with Erik Comas and Masami Kageyama at the wheel in 1998, a feat replicated by the R34 Skyline GT-R, again with Comas in the driver’s seat, in 1999.
It’s that car you see here, driven by one of Nissan’s current stars, Alex Buncombe. Buncombe isn’t quite as closely linked with the Gran Turismo series as some of his teammates, having started racing before the GT Academy opened its doors, but his long relationship with Nissan makes him the perfect driver to put the GT500 car through its paces.
Fuji Speedway is also a fitting circuit; the R34 won in three quarters of its outings at the famous track. Its long straight also provides the perfect opportunity for Buncombe to stretch the Skyline’s legs.
While its inline-six was based on that of the road car, its 495bhp output was significantly greater, and the R34’s sophisticated all-wheel drive system made way for a race-ready rear-wheel drive setup.
GT500 regulations might have changed since, but the series remains as competitive as ever – and with Nissan still fielding GT-Rs, perhaps the Pennzoil livery will also reappear one day.