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For several seasons Nissan's involvement in Group C was limited to just two rounds of the World Sports Prototype Championship; the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the local race at Fuji. That had to change after 1988 as the FIA declared that teams had to compete in every round of the Championship and could no long 'cherry-pick' their events. Reluctantly the Japanese manufacturer decided to comply with the new demands.
In preparation for the new, much busier season drastic changes were carried out; a new European headquarters was created and more importantly the construction of a brand new car was commissioned. Up until then the chassis for the Nissan engines had been built by March but it was decided starting from a clean sheet was necessary. Fellow Brits Lola won the commission to design and build the 'Nissan R89C.' They had previously constructed the moderately successful Nissan GTP racers.
Although hugely experienced, the R89C or T89/10 as it was known internally, was Lola's first all new Group C car since the T600 series of the early 1980s. The designers were clearly inspired by the Le Mans winning TWR developed Jaguar XJR-9. Underneath the clean and simple exterior shape were deep Venturis to create massive amounts of downforce. The Kevlar and carbon fiber chassis was suspended by double wishbones at the front and rear. Carbone Industries supplied ceramic discs provided the stopping power.
Nissan's biggest contribution, apart from the funding of course, was a development of the twin-Turbo V8 introduced in the 1988 season. The biggest modification was an increase of the stroke resulting in a rise of the displacement from 3 to 3.5 litre. The highly advanced 32-valve unit produced a hefty 800 bhp in endurance specification. In qualification trim it is believed to have produced upwards of 1000 bhp. Mounted amidships, the 'VRH35Z' engine was mated to a Hewland supplied five-speed gearbox.
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