CHANCES are, you’re familiar with Ran Maclurkin and his matte Black Nissan 180SX.
Maclurkin has spent many seasons developing and investing in his prized Nissan, so it may come as a surprise that he has elected to step away from the 180SX in favour of a Nissan 300ZX. Between spinning spanners and watching the Supercars in Darwin, Maclurkin was more than happy to take time and chat to VSRS.com.au, discussing not only his new car but also the recently announced prospect of competing against his Dad, who has commandeered an Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
VSRS.com.au: “You’re well known for racing your Nissan 180SX in the QP Lubes Victorian Sports Sedans Championship, what prompted the change?”
Ran Maclurkin: “We bought the 300ZX just before Covid-19 hit in 2020. I had decided I was going to compete in it, then dad (Ranald Maclurkin Snr) decided he would race it but later changed his mind. Then my brother decided he too was going to race it but that didn’t happen in the end. Once Dad decided to get the Aston, the 300ZX ended up back with me and I decided to build it up to my liking to compete in the QP Lubes Victorian Sports Sedans Championship.
“There is also a bit of cage work needed, as it used to be a Time Attack car, you could technically compete in it as it is, but you wouldn’t want to crash it. So obviously, cage upgrades are needed.
“I put a completely new fuel system into it, that took a bit longer than I anticipated as you are usually waiting for parts. When you think you’ve ordered all that you need, something pops up and you need to put in another order and wait a few days for it to be delivered.
“But it’s coming along well, it should be ready for September and I’m just ticking off some of the smaller jobs. After that, I’ll be wrapping it, painting it and making sure it’s got all the right signs on it and then we’ll be right to go.
“I raced the 180SX in another event following Round 3 Phillip Island, someone hit me and caused a bit of damage. I figured that I needed to update the brakes on it, a few repairs and upgrades anyway so I decided to put all my effort into the 300ZX instead.”
VSRS: “Can you tell us about the technical aspects of your new car?”
RM: “It was built for Time Attack competition, and I don’t think it has seen any competition for quite some time. It’s got a VQ35 bottom end with VQ30 heads, forged internals – it’s had a fair bit of engine work. Dry sump, twin Garrett turbos, Tilton clutch, Z32 gearbox with a PPG gear set installed, so a reliable dogbox arrangement. For what it is, without reaching the realms of the John Gorlay Audis of the world, it’s very well set up for state-level competition.
“Sports Sedans has production-based class, or a ‘floor pan’ category as it’s also known, for cars that aren’t outright ‘space frame beasts’ and I am not too far off the head of the class in the 180SX, the Commodores are a little bit quicker than I am with a bit more power, so we thought racing the 300ZX might bring me up close to the front of that class.
“We’re now running the same bodywork as the Keith Carling’s and Kerry Bailey’s 300ZXs – obviously being a floor pan car it’s not as wide or extreme in certain areas as those space frame 300ZXs, but for all intents and purposes, it certainly looks like those halo cars of Carling and Bailey.
“It is a 3.5 litre motor, Sports Sedans regulations affords us the ability to run a 3.5 litre forced induction engine, which we are almost at the limit of where we can go with that configuration. It’s well documented online by John, the person who originally built the car, that they kept blowing up original 300ZX blocks so that’s why they adopted the VQ35 for the bottom end. It’s an interesting Frankenstein’s Monster, that’s for sure.
“It came with a huge set of Supercars spec Brakes, AP rotors and callipers. With more power, a better gearbox, better differential, and the fact it looks cool, it just made sense to focus on the new car over the older one.”
VSRS: “When are we likely to see the new whip in action?”
RM: “Depending on timelines, I plan to test the car at the Winton before Round 5 at Phillip Island, but if that doesn’t eventuate the race weekend will be my debut in the car. Intention is to also race it at the final round of the QP Lubes Victorian Sports Sedans Championship at Island Magic in November, the famous 50K Plate.”
VSRS: “You mentioned your Dad earlier, he recently made social media headlines with his new Aston Martin Vantage. How will it be competing against him in Victorian Sports Sedans?”
RM: “It is the former Bilstein Shocks Vantage imported by the Miedeckes a few years ago. It belonged to a different owner before Dad bought it, I believe they upgraded it to 2016 GT4 specification which rules it out of current Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia competition for the moment. There are some body panels that rule it out as Aston Martin updated some of the panels since 2016.
“But, it is an Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Sports a 4.7 Litre V8, paddle shift, it’s the six-speed version instead of the seven-speed version they introduced a few years ago. Dad used to race TVRs in Production Sports Cars years ago, he would import Jaguars, Aston Martins and other British Sports cars so this is what he will race after spending some time thinking about it.
“It took some convincing, partly from myself, that he isn’t getting any younger and he could afford to buy it and compete in Victorian state level Sports Sedans with me and hopefully my brother as well in the not-too-distant future. It’s all about fun at the end of the day, I get to race against Dad, and he will get to compete with and or against his sons.
“We grew up as Sports Cars people, however when I got back into racing a number of years ago, I elected to race in the 180SX which ultimately led to racing in Sports Sedans which I thoroughly enjoy. It’s pretty cool to bring the Aston into the championship.”
The QP Lubes Victorian Sports Sedans Championship sit out Round 4 of the VSRS at Sandown, July 24-25, as the Sports Sedans organising committee focus on promoting the event itself. They will, however, be back in action for the final Round 5 of the VSRS at Phillip Island, September 25-26.
The Sports Sedans then have their final round of the 2021 season at the famous Island Magic event, competing for the coveted 50K Plate, November 27-28. Season 2021 VSRS action can be seen live and free on Blend Line TV via their YouTube Channel and Facebook page, and don’t forget to check in regularly with the VSRS socials on Facebook and soon-to-be-launched Instagram page.