Lance Hughes hopes the latest addition to his fleet – a Nissan GT-R GT3 – will be a head-turner in this year’s Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series.
The former Clark Proctor GT-R, Hughes purchased the car to contest both the North and South Island Endurance Series.
The car is in full GT3 spec, though this is the first time Hughes has raced a GT3 machine competitively.
The NZ V8 regular is teaming up with Chris van der Drift for the season to lessen the learning curve.
“It was actually Andre Heimgartner who helped get Chris in the car,” Hughes told Velocity News.
“Andre and Chris are good mates, and I was talking to Andre back at the New Zealand Grand Prix about the enduros. He told me to go and speak to Chris about driving the car.
“Chris has been really good in just about everything. He is used to driving GT cars in Asia, so I am learning off him as much as I can.”
The GT-R is decked out in the usual Hamilton Asphalts livery, with a unique ‘rising sun’ feature around the rear wheels.
Hughes and van der Drift spent two days testing the car at Pukekohe last week.
While the test was helpful for the team, Hughes says the actual performance of the GT-R is still unknown given the lack of running it has done.
“Testing went all right,” he said. “But it is hard to tell where we are at.
“Chris was pretty quick, and he should do well. But I don’t think we will be the fastest.
“We also ran with the chicane on the back straight for the test, which wasn’t used in last year’s race.
“So, there is a few unknowns. But this whole car is new for nearly everyone in the team and we just need to learn it together.”
Despite his lack of experience steering a GT3 weapon, Hughes admits the car is thrilling to drive and utterly different to his usual V8-powered Holden Commodore.
“In a straight line, [the GT-R] is a bit slower than the Commodore, but the aero it has is just massive.
“I am foot flat to the floor going over the hill and into turn one, braking about 20 metres later than what I otherwise would.
“The mid-corner speed is just incredible. The car just sticks to the track.
“It is a whole lot of fun to drive.”
The first round of the North Island Endurance Series is this weekend at Pukekohe Park, with Hughes and van der Drift entered to race in the Three Hour race on Sunday afternoon.
The race is scheduled to start at 1.30 pm and is broadcast live on Sky Sport.