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Nissan Z to make its racing debut in Japan Super GT

The new Z will participate in the 2022 race season in all its retro-futuristic glory.

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and Nissan Motorsports International Co., Ltd. made a bold announcement after the unveiling of the newly designed Nissan Z at Fuji International Speedway. The reincarnation of the Fairlady is set to participate in the 2022 Super GT Series racing under the GT500 class.

This is a bitter-sweet event as the debut of the Z signifies the retirement of the R35 as the official race car of Nissan. (Long live Godzilla!)

However, the rebirth of the new Z itself is a pleasure for old school fans, and its participation to Super GT should be considered a gift to the world of racing. Despite all the corporate fiasco that happened inside the company during the past years, Nissan decided to forego all conservative marketing strategies and just go all-in with the Z.

The move of the company to focus on what made them great in the first place, instead on playing it safe with their public image, indirectly made the 2022 Super GT the most anticipated race series globally. The idea alone that fans will be witnessing a competition between the new Nissan Z, the new Toyota Supra, and the latest Honda NSX has just made Japanese racing so damn exciting.

“The Nissan Z GT500 symbolizes Nissan’s spirit of taking on challenges and bringing excitement to life. Through our racing efforts we continue to innovate our cars and we race to win with the same daring we have displayed so many times over the years,” Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta said.

Old school by heart

Yes, this may seem like a nostalgia marketing stunt. But it gets our positive approval because it has been done right thus far. Despite Nissan cutting a few corners and saving cash by equipping the new model with the same old chassis of Z34 370Z, the fact of the matter is that this car remained true to its racing pedigree. And frankly, that is all that mattered.

The new Z’s appearance is a proper homage to all the Z cars of the past. The silhouette of the car is reminiscent of the 240Z’s body lines, while minute details hint at later models of the Z. But the real thrill comes from the fact that each time Nissan developed a Z car, it meant that the company aimed for a race championship. It’s so obvious that it’s no longer considered a hint at this point, but a stern warning to all its competitors.

Photo of the BRE Datsun 240Z that won SCCA National Championship titles . Datsun made history being the first Japanese production-based car winning this title.

The Fairlady Z, under the Datsun badge has been synonymous with racing victory. In the early 1970’s as a novice racing group in the United States, Nissan bagged consecutive wins at the SCCA C Production Series with the legendary S30 240Z. Fast forward in the 1990s, Nissan took multiple victories at the IMSA Series with the Z32 300ZX followed by its participation in the JGTC/Super GT series with the Z33 in the 2000’s. This campaign ultimately led to a series championship for the company.

Form over function

Even if visual aesthetics had been sacrificed to prioritize performance, Nissan made sure the body of the GT500 Z retained the smooth roofline of the car, and finer details still shared visual cues from its base model.

The GT500 Z has been revealed wearing a matte-black livery, bolted with wide fender flares and a massive swan-neck rear wing much like how other GT500 cars would be dressed for the event. The aero department relies on maximum airflow efficiency as the body sported a large front grille with a handful of air vents, as well as a complex diffuser to provide smooth airflow underneath the chassis.

Nissan shared no photos of the interior, but it is expected that come race day, the Z will have a stripped-out cabin with racing seats, and a roll cage, while its shaved dashboard will only have the most necessary of switches and perhaps a digital display to replace its mechanical gauges.

Even if there are no technical details released, Nissan is bound to follow the strict regulations of the GT500 category which clearly states that all race cars participating in the class must use a turbocharged inline-4 engine, using identical turbos across the board. The power output is bound at 650HP, and the total weight is set at a minimum of 2,271 pounds including the driver. Therefore, the likelihood of the GT500 Z sharing the same engine with the civilian Z, which is expected to have more cylinders, is zero.

The GT500 Nissan Z will make its official race debut at Okayama International Circuit for the start of the 2022 season in April. Company representatives assured race fans that the new Z shall carry Nissan’s passion for motorsports.

“We are entering the 2022 Super GT series with our all-new Nissan Z GT500 car and our huge passion for motorsports. We hope that our fans will continue to passionately support the Nissan and NISMO motorsport teams,” NISMO President Takao Katagiri said.

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