1991 KLEPPER TAISAN GT-R (JTC) Nissan Skyline GT-R/Gr.A (BNR32)
- 1991 Group A JTC championship race car
- Stock N1 engine installed
- Original water-cooled brake system
- Price when new (1990): ¥55 million
This is a race car that actually participated in Group A of the JTC (Japan Touring Car) championship in 1991. Kenji Takahashi, the development test driver of the R32 Skyline GT-R, and Keiichi Tsuchiya, the "Drift King", were at the wheel of this car.
At the time, the GT-R was so dominant in Group A that it virtually looked like a one-make race series, as most teams opted to run the GT-R. The reason for Taisan’s success was its unique brake water-cooling system.
In the opening race of the season, the brakes were cooled normally, by air, as with all the other teams, but they were overwhelmed by the performance of the GT-R and team Taisan had to retire from the race. To address this issue, team principal Chiba, decided to turn the tables by using the technology from his company, Taisan Industrial, which mainly manufactured pumps. With a 20-litre water tank, the team sprayed water directly onto the brake rotors to cool them down. This proved to be very effective, and the team finished 2nd in round 2 at Suzuka, followed by another 2nd place in the following round at Tsukuba. Of course, this water-cooling system is still installed to this day, and the water inlet can be seen behind the driver's seat.
The engine has been replaced with a stock N1 engine, but the majority of the suspension parts have been kept to the original Group A specification. The battle-scarred Volk Racing Super Fine magnesium centre-lock wheels also remain.
The R32 Skyline GT-R was an iconic car for Team Taisan, and there are only two surviving examples, this one which competed in Group A in 1991, and the other one on display at the Nissan Museum, which was used from 1992 to 1993.
Team Taisan and the GT-R
Team Taisan began competing in Group A in 1991 with the R32 GT-R. Although they achieved good results, they did not receive enough support from Nismo to win the championship.
The following year, the team changed its structure and Team Taisan took more of a sponsor type of role. This was at the request of driver Kunimitsu Takahashi who was partnered with Keiichi Tsuchiya. For Tsuchiya, it was a dream he had held for many years to race in a GT-R, the best car he had ever driven, and in partnership with Kunimitsu Takahashi, the man who had inspired him in his racing career.
The GT-R was completely redesigned within the Group A regulations to make it the ultimate race car. All suspension parts were bespoke, the transmission case is made of magnesium alloy and the prop shaft is made of carbon to reduce weight. The engine, tuned by Nissan Kohki (Nissan’s engine manufacturing subsidiary), produces over 600hp at 1.6 kg/cm2 of boost. It was such a dominant car that Group A racing seemed like a one-make series as most teams had to opt for the GT-R to be competitive.
Despite being race cars, the body remained unchanged and were the same as the production cars, meaning they had no downforce. This meant the drivers’ skill and courage were tested as they were left on their own with their hands and feet to control the nearly 650hp. At over 300kph the front of the car created lift and there was so much heat around the pedals that the soles of the drivers’ shoes would melt and stick to the pedals. No compromises were made in the pursuit for speed and despite this the drivers were able to turn and slide through corners at incredible speeds.
One of the most memorable moments was perhaps the battle for 3rd place at Sugo, the 3rd round of the 1992 season. Tsuchiya was determined to help Takahashi get back on the podium, so when Takahashi handed the wheel to Tsuchiya, he fought like a demon to take the car from 5th to 3rd, he finished on the podium with the driver he idolised.
The R32 GT-R was an iconic car for Team Taisan, and the only surviving examples are the one that competed in Group A in 1991 and the one on display at the Nissan Museum that raced in 1992 to 1993.
Even to this day, the GT-R emblem shines brightly in the history of Japanese racing. The GT-R's incredible unbeaten streak and the passionate driving displayed by Team Taisan will be remembered forever.