I’m not a fervent computer gamer, but I appreciate the increasingly blurred line between virtual reality and proper, flesh-and-metal reality.
That doesn’t prevent a tiny tremor of concern passing through me when Andy Palmer, Nissan’s chief planning officer, tells me that his only previous experience of the Goodwood hill has been via the (admittedly very accurate) rendering of the route that exists on Gran Turismo 6.
This worries me because I am sitting in the passenger seat of a definitely real and extremely rare Nissan GT-R, which Palmer is about to drive up the course at high speed. What’s more, those tree trunks off the start line and those straw bales at Molecomb and that flint wall further up are definitely, emphatically not made of computer pixels…
My nerves subside as we patiently wait our turn. As befits a man who personally signs-off all of Nissan’s new road car models, Palmer is a safe and experienced pair of hands.
On our run up the hill he’s measured and precise, noting that the first right-hander is often slippery under the trees and remembering that Molecomb corner needs the utmost respect (something that fellow Nissan GT-R driver Sir Chris Hoy finds out the hard way later in the day).
But he’s by no means hanging about; I can tell by the pace that the flint wall zooms towards us. The GT-R is scenery-blurring quick, and I love the visceral bark it produces during acceleration and gearshifts.
We both stay in the car, belted and helmeted, when we reach the holding area at the top of the too-short run. We realise – too late – that we should have hopped out and rubbed shoulders with the great and the good, who have clambered out of their cars.
Hoy bobs his head into the door to say hello to Palmer. Jenson Button idly leans against our GT-R’s rear wing as he chats. Jay Kay hops out of his LaFerrari as fans clamour for photos and autographs.
Mind you, I’m happy to sit here and scrutinise the Nissan. This isn’t just any GT-R; this ‘Time Attack’ car was used to set the ‘volume’ production car lap record around the Nürburgring Nordschleife last year.
Although the car is a production model, it does have the ambience of a car honed for raw pace and is augmented with ‘track options’ – parts that any keen owner could buy and fit.
The aerodynamics have been tweaked, weight has been cut and the suspension has been tuned, although the engineers actually softened it off to deal with the harsh bumps of the Nordschleife.
The bonnet of the car has been signed by all the engineers and drivers who worked together to make Nissan’s 7min 08.679sec lap of the Nürburgring happen. Wonder if those drivers learned their lines on the PlayStation 3? Nissan has shown it can work...