NISMO takes the Constructors Title
After a mediocre 2000 season, with vice-titles in the driver- and constructor's-championships behind the victorious Mugen-NSX's, Nissan returned with only three of the previous four Skylines for the seven races of the 2001 JGTC championship. Team Hasemi had left the Skyline-Ensemble during the winter-break to try its luck in a GT300 Silvia for 2001, after disappointing 11th and 15th championship-positions in 2000.
NISMO remained with two cars in the championship. The No.22 Xanavi Hiroto GT-R was driven by the German Michael Krumm and Tetsuya Tanaka, who came for Ex-Formula-One-driver Ukyo Katayama. The No. 23 Pennzoil Zexel GT-R kept the driver-couple of former Formula-One-driver Erik Comas from France and Tetsuya Tanaka, who were driver's champions in 1998 and vice-champions in 2000. The duo of Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Satoshi Motoyama, 3rd of the driver's championship in 2000, stayed with Team Impul's No.12 Calsonic Skyline, although Hoshino was replaced by Naoki Hattori for the first three races of the season.
All three cars were updated versions of the BNR34 of the 2000 JGTC Season. The NISMO Skyline GT-R is 181.1 in. long and 74.2 in. wide (4 inches more than the standard GT-R). Similar to the production R34 Nissan Skyline GTR's, the NISMO GT-R race-car is powered by the twin-turbocharged RB26DETT. Thanks to a larger stroke and in effect a larger displacement of 2,708cc, this powerplant pumps out 460 hp at 6,000rpm and 517 lb-ft of torque at 4,400rpm in race-spec. Power is delivered to the rear-wheels only, via an XTRAC 6-speed sequential gearbox. Omitting the all-wheel-drive of the production GT-R's makes for a better weight distribution and saves ballast overall. As a result, the NISMO GT-R weighs in at only 2,425 lbs. 335/40R18 tires front and rear make up for the loss of all-wheel traction.
The season was opened with a race at the Circuit of Aida. Not a good track for the Skylines, as it seemed. Best of the Nissans, the No. 22 Xanavi Hiroto GT-R finished in 4th, behind three dominant Mugen-NSXs. Even further back, the No. 23 Pennzoil Zexel and No.12 Calsonic Skylines finished in embarrassing 13th and 15th positions, respectively.
The results of Round 2 at Fuji Speedway looked much more promising, with the NISMO GT-R's finishing in positions three and four. First and second came the Esso Ultraflo and au Cerumo Supras, which had dominated the Qualifying already.
Almost disastrous were the Skylines' results of Round 3 at Sportsland Sugo. The track simply did not fit the car's layout. Best of the bunch, the No.12 Calsonic Skyline finished in 7th position, the No. 23 Pennzoil Skyline came in 10th and the No. 23 Xanavi Hiroto did not see the finish-line at all.