The GT500 Class 2005 Xanavi Nismo 350Z at Suzuka

After a much needed week off, we’re back and resuming our focus on the iconic Nissan “Z” car as we lead up to this weekend’s coverage of the 2012 Z Nationals gathering in Atlanta, Georgia. First up, an awesome photo featuring the hugely successful #1 Xanavi Nismo 350Z competing in the dramatic rain-soaked finish to the 2005 Japanese Super GT championship race.

It doesn’t get more interesting than a GT500 spec NISMO 350Z racing in the rain…on the Japanese Mie Prefecture’s legendary Suzuka Circuit for the 2005 Super GT Championship.

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The 350Z replaced the Skyline GT-R as the car for Nissan’s factory and customer teams in the Super GT’s GT 500 class. The cars used are heavily modified and feature a longer nose and tail (requiring the production of the Type-E homologation special), carbon fiber bodywork, and a tube chassis. In 2004, NISMO won the GT500 championship. Until the 2007 season, the car was powered by a VQ30DETT V6. In order to increase competitiveness, however, a new 4.5L V8 powerplant has been developed. The 350Z, with slightly more pedestrian modifications also competes in the GT300 class (having started there even before the Skyline GT-Rs were replaced) by teams such as Endless Sports and Mola. In 2003 Hasemi Sports won the GT300 championship with the 350Z. In 2008 season, the 350Zs were all replaced by Nissan GT-Rs in the GT500 class, but they have continued to be used in the GT300 class as the GT-Rs exceed the horsepower limits which make it impossible to participate. Thus, two 350Zs competed in the series and MOLA won the both Drivers’ and Teams’ championships in the GT300 class.