The dominance of the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R in Japan’s touring car racing is well known. But before Godzilla stepped into the ring, it may surprise you to learn that the All-Japan Touringcar Championship was dominated by Ford — specifically, the Sierra Cosworth RS500. Nissan had tried for several years to wrest the crown away from the Blue Oval without success but in 1989, just before the debut of the game-changing R32, the R31 Skyline did have its moment.
That year Nissan fielded two cars, the No.12 Calsonic Skyline driven by Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Gen Kitano, and the No.50 Reebock Skyline driven by Masahiro Hasemi and Anders Olofsson. With Mitsubishi’s Starion dropping out that year, the Division 1 championship was a three-way battle between Nissan, Ford, and Toyota’s A70 Supra.
The video released by NISMO showcases the R31 Skyline GTS-R’s journey to the top podium spot in 1989. Although the Calsonic Skyline took pole position in four of the six races that year, the car often suffered mechanical issues and won only one round. The Reebok Skyline won three races and seemed poised to claim the Manufacturers’ Championship for Nissan. But at the final race of the season at Fuji Speedway, Ford came back with a vengeance, snatching the title from the R31. However, it was able to hold onto the Drivers’ Championship and put the R31 GTS-R into the history books.