What you are looking at is the world’s first GT-R powered Dakar Rally contender. It is known as the Red Lined T1+ Revo GT-R and it is built right here in South Africa. South Africa is a hot-bed of rally raid excellence. We have been producing world-class drivers for many years, and now we are producing world-beating machinery as well. Double Apex had an exclusive chat with the CEO of Red-Lined Motorsport about its interesting new creation.

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Turbo Talk

Red-Lined Motorsport has been building rally raid machines for many years. The Gauteng-based company primarily uses Nissan power for its race machines. Most recently they employed the V8 petrol engine from the Patrol to power its off-road racers.

Click here to read why the Dakar Rally is such a compelling sport to follow.

However, a recent rule change by the FIA saw the top Dakar Rally class, T1+, move to forced induction petrol engines with a maximum capacity of 3 500 cm³. Peak power is capped at 264 kW. This is to prevent an expensive and endless development race. The move to turbo power was great for the likes of Toyota and Ford that already had ideal engines in the factory pool to draw from. Toyota use the recent Land Cruiser’s twin-turbo 3,5-litre and Ford opted for the engine from the Raptor. However, the closest Nissan engine was the 3,8-litre unit in the R35 GT-R.

Upping the Limit

Red-Lined CEO Terence Marsh explained, “We could source an engine from our main rivals, Toyota or Ford, but that isn’t ideal. We are an independent team and we felt that sourcing an engine from an uninvolved automaker would allow us to maintain that independence.

“So, I wrote to the FIA. I explained that, since power is capped, it doesn’t really matter how big the engine size. They agreed and lifted the restriction to 4 000 cm³. This meant that we could run the VR38DETT engine from the current GT-R. We buy the engines directly from Nissan but we have to severely down-tune them to the peak power limit. Right now they are completely standard apart from the Motec ECU. Maybe we will look at making changes when we have done more testing. We could maybe consider smaller turbos that spool up a bit quicker, but we’ll see.”

Dakar Ready

T1+ spec machine is based on a spaceframe concept and features fully independent, double wishbones all around. The GT-R motor is mated with a six-speed sequential transmission. The body panels are all lightweight and the car’s have a mandated 485-litre fuel cell. At least one of them will be at the Dakar next year.

Click here to check out the Dacia Sandrider that Seb Loeb and Nasser Al-Attiyah will race next year.

“We are building the Red Lined T1+ Revo GT-R to be FIA compliant so they can be raced in the Dakar (rally). In fact, we have six under construction now with one confirmed for the race next year. There is potential for a few others at that event. There should be three running by the middle of this year in the SA national series. We should have two of the GT-R-powered cars at the opening round with a third by round two.”

“We have only done about a thousand kilometres of testing, which is nothing in this sport. Data and mileage is everything. There is plenty more to do. We will be testing the cars all year in race events and in private, locally and in Namibia in preparation for Dakar,” concluded Marsh. 

Opening image courtesy of @ishootstories.

The Nissan GT-R-powered Revo race machine made its competition debut at a local event this last weekend. You can catch a glimpse of it in action below.