You’ve read the feature on Glenn Hodges’ absolutely bonkers Nissan March after round four of the Prowear NZ Superlap Series, but now you’re wondering how this mad creation from The Lab Ltd. feared in New Zealand’s only time attack race series. With a car of this nature, it’s not an easy beast to tame. Packing 440kW-plus of pure shed-built twin-turbo V6 muscle in a custom-built car isn’t always going to be the easiest to get a handle on, especially when every suspension and aero component has been handmade.
The fourth round of the Prowear NZ Superlap series was held at Bruce McLaren Motorsport park, and, with decent weather for the most part, it were to be perfect track conditions for testing. With known heat-soaking issues thanks to an inefficient intercooler and cooling system, Glenn used this track time to gain some vital information.
With no change to intake air temps, Glenn moved onto pushing the little March to find its limitations, Glenn explains, “the last session of the round four at Taupo I was trying to progressively find the upper limits for corner speed. On a couple of the safer corners, I stepped over that limit by just a touch and then reacted poorly resulting in an excursion onto the grass.”
Unfortunately, the splitter dug in hard during this excursion and resulted in a spin. This would ultimately end the weekend for Glenn, with a car full of grass and sand. After getting the March home for a much-needed clean, Glenn began the planned modifications before the final round, held at Hampton Downs Raceway.
“After extensive discussions with PWR in Australia on how to improve the intercooler system and coming to the realisation the current budget simply was not going to meet the requirements for the good gear, it was time to get the welder out — again!”
Straight away, Glenn purchased a new, much-thicker aluminium radiator, which he then cut up and modified to suit. The original radiator was then reused and cut up to become the new low-temp radiator for the intercooler system. The intercooler itself was then cut up and modified to enhance the efficiency. The air intakes received your classic case of Kiwi ingenuity, with a couple of four-litre paint tins, with stickers removed to act as cold-air intakes — awesome!
After the cooling upgrades were completed, Glenn turned his direction to the front-splitter, which besides being full of grass, needed a good reworking. A couple of extra brackets were installed, and it was raised an overall 25-millimetres off the ground, then it was off to the dyno, Glenn explains, “the whole car was given a nut and bolt check, then taken to D Tech for a tune and test of the intercooler and cooling system changes. While not perfect, there were significant improvements in the cooling systems and the car netted 447kW (599hp) at the rear hubs, so slightly up on what we had way back at the start in the old chassis.”
For the final round of the Prowear NZ Superlap Series, Glenn had a serious surprise in store for us all; Steve Millen, international motorsport hero, Kiwi legend, and owner of Stillen was to drive the little March during the lunchtime sessions with a passenger. This wasn’t for no reason though, as Glenn had been asked if he wanted to be involved in rides for charity for Leukemia & Blood Cancer NZ.
After a voluntary MSNZ audit, Glenn was ready for Saturday to hand over the keys to Steve. To give Steve a chance to come to grips with the little March, he was given the first session of the day to get comfortable. “It’s good!” Steve exclaimed.
Steve and the charity winner made there way out in the lunchtime cruise session for a couple of hot laps, and it’s safe to say Steve had an absolute blast behind the wheel the March and provided some solid feedback for Glenn. One is that it seriously needs a dead pedal, so Glenn can feel what the car is doing.
After a quick refuel, Glenn made his way out onto the grid for the final session of day one. “I headed out aiming to slowly get the pace improved as laps went by, however, the car and track were terrible. Moderate braking locked the front wheels, the car understeered, then would snap oversteer — this was not the car I had been driving all season!” Glen told us.
At a moderate pace, the March locked up and it was into the sand once again. Upon closer inspection after returning to the puts Glenn noticed the front splitter was loose, resulting in a very pronounced high-speed shudder, upsetting the front-end balance of the March. Back to the shed that night to get it finished by Sunday! “It was just after dark and the improvements had been made!”
With improved track conditions after midday, Glenn pulled the March off the trailer to take on the competition. After a couple of sighting laps, Glenn was pumped, “the track was so much cleaner and drier than Saturday,” he continues, “Fortunately I had the forethought to check the front shock settings. Oddly, they were set to full stiff — a recipe for the disaster of a session we’d had on the Saturday afternoon.”
After Eric’s unfortunate fire and being held in the pits, Glenn was ready to get the session underway, after finding out nobody was injured. “Superlap group three to your cars now please!” The session was about to begin.
“And we’re off! I’m lucky enough to be at the front, so clear of the traffic. The car feels amazing and it’s back to what I knew from the rounds before, only this time I’ve nailed it and the front aero is rock solid and I have a little more power.”
After two moderately paced laps, Glenn started to feed into a little harder to try and take on a few competitors in the series. After making a small mistake on corner exit of turn four, Glenn slid over the ripple strips sideways, but still managed to keep the pace going. It was all looking extremely good, until the lap was red-flagged, ending the fun. During the day, Glenn managed an extremely respectable 1:14.9-second lap time and upon entering the pits, he was welcomed with congratulations from the other competitors, showing just how warm the NZ Superlap family truly are.
Glenn and the humble Nissan March netted a third place in Pro Open for the season and a trophy for reliability — “both genuinely a great surprise!” Glenn told us.