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2001 JGTC Season

Season Summary

At this point in time, the Nissans were so far behind, nobody would have bet a penny on them winning any of the championships. But next on the schedule was a little break for the championship in favour of a promotional Special Stage at the Formula-One Circuit of Sepang near Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur. From 2002 on, races will be held there as part of the JGTC Season. Which is good for the Skylines, since NISMO took positions three and four in the race, and the No.12 Calsonic Skyline came in 8th position. Overall, this was the best weekend of the whole season so far.

And Nissan was not to stop its efforts, yet. More testing was done in preparation for Round 4 at Fuji Speedway. In contrast to the 114 lap All Japan Fuji GT Race of Round 2, which was held at the same circuit, the Round 4 Japan Special GT Cup is only 57 laps long. And the short distance seemed to favour the Nissans, which gained the 2nd starting position. The result was a NISMO double-victory, with the No. 22 Xanavi Hiroto GT-R ahead of the No. 23 Pennzoil Zexel GT-R. The No. 12 Calsonic Skyline came in 7th position, to round off an almost perfect weekend for Nissan. Thanks to this victory, Krumm and Tanaka (No. 22) took the lead in the driver's championship, but also had to carry an extra weight of 130 lbs. (60kg).

In the past, Twin Ring Motegi, the venue of Round 5, had suited the Skylines quite well. Not so this time. With 11th and 15th starting positions for the NISMO GT-R's and a 5th place on the grid for Team Impul, especially the factory cars set off for the race from anything but an optimal starting position. And they could not gain much during the course of the race. In the end, the No.23 Pennzoil Zexel Skyline did not finish the race at all and the No. 22 Xanavi Hiroto still had nine cars ahead of it. Fortunately, one of those was the No. 12 Calsonic Skyline, which, in 3rd place, drove to its first podium finish of the running season.

Still, with only two races to go, the NISMOs had experienced a major setback for their (Driver and Team) championship ambitions. New leaders of the driver's championship ranking were Hironori Takeuchi and Yuji Tachikawa in the No. 38 au Cerumo Supra.

But it seems the 2001 JGTC Season was no good place for championship leaders. In Round 6 at Suzuka Circuit, the No. 38 au Cerumo Supra took 6th position only. Unfortunately, the No. 22 Xanavi Hiroto Skyline GT-R could not gain ground on it, because it finished a mere 8th. The overall victory went to Honda, which had two NSX's on positions one and two, followed by the Pennzoil Zexel GT-R.

In effect, the competitors were so close in the championship rankings, that everything was still possible when the series went to the last round at CP Miné Circuit. And indeed, it worked out - at least on the constructor's side. With all three Skylines in the top six-positions, Nissan could finally secure the constructor's championship, three points ahead of the Mugen-Dome NSX's and 13 ahead of the au Cerumo Supras. On the other hand, Hironori Takeuchi and Yuji Tachikawa of the No. 38 au Cerumo Supra took the Driver's Championship. Just for the records: The Race was won by No. 30 SOK McLaren GTR, followed by the No. 23 Pennzoil Zexel GT-R.

Overall, 2001 was a very exciting season with many surprises. Not only did it seem that Nissan had already lost the championship by the middle of the season, but it also sets one thinking that a highly specialized series like the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship can be won by drivers that were victorious not even once during the season, as has happened with the Supra drivers (the regulations have been changed since). Still, congratulations to these drivers, for being the most constant points collectors throughout the whole season. NISMO finished 4th and 5th and Team Impul took 11th position of the driver's ranking.

Hopefully, the 2002 JGTC season will see NISMO in the condition of the second half of 2001.

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