Dakar debut for Nissan rally-raid prototype

The factory Nissan Rally Raid team under Alec Poole is about to embark on a four-year programme in the 8500km Telefonica Dakar. It has entered three new cars for the 2003 event, which will start in Marseille, France, on January 1 and finish at Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, on January 19. Two of the Pickups, built at Kyalami by Nissan South Africa Motorsport, are evolutions of the off-road cars raced there in 2002, but the third is a prototype for Nissan's future desert racers

Dakar debut for Nissan rally-raid prototype

NSAM's factory at the Kyalami race circuit includes manufacturing, machining and engine test capabilities to support its motorsport effort. The Dakar build programme was undertaken there by a team under the supervision of project chief engineer Glyn Hall. The 1750kg prototype has consumed 1000 man-hours of design time. It dispenses with a ladder-frame chassis and is based on a genuine spaceframe, with an integrated rollcage. It also has all-independent suspension based on a double-wishbone front layout and a 'live' rear axle.

Its 3.5-litre, quad-cam, all-aluminium VQ35 six-cylinder engine, built under the direction of Colin Holmes, is equipped with steel connecting rods, special pistons and, for the first time, variable valve timing on the inlet camshafts. To combat engine bay temperatures expected to reach 170degC, the under-hood wiring harness consists of high-specification aeronautical cable, and heat-shielding protects the Pectel T6 engine management control box. This 280bhp engine, which is also installed in the evolution cars, drives through a centre differential, two LSDs and a six-speed sequential-shift gearbox.

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