NISSAN will join the V8 Supercars Championship in 2013 and become the first new manufacturer to enter the sport under its new ‘Car of the Future’ rulebook. The news was announced today at a press conference in the River Room at Crown Casino in Melbourne.
The Japanese brand is returning to the sport from which it was banned in 1993 after its all-wheel-drive GT-R coupe dominated the series in 1991 and 1992 to earn the nickname ‘Godzilla’. It will not be a purpose built motorsport V8 – but an engine out of Nissan’s road cars (5.0-litre from Infiniti?)
Mark Skaife was one of the drivers at the wheel during the GT-R’s successful campaign, and ironically its the multi-title-winning champion’s Car of the Future blueprint that has paved the way for the return of Nissan, as well as potentially more rivals such as Chrysler.
Kelly Racing has signed with Nissan to become the company’s factory team and will run four cars next year from their Melbourne workshop.
The team will have the full support of the giant NISMO Nissan Motorsport organisation.
Nissan GT-R below is going to be the course/safety car of the championship.
Announcing the news today was Nissan Australia Managing Director and CEO Dan Thompson, Ian Moreillon (Executive General Manager, Sales and Fleet, Nissan Australia), V8 Supercars Chairman Tony Cochrane and V8 Supercars CEO David Malone.
“We plan to use our presence in the series to strengthen our passenger car credentials in Australia,” said CEO and Managing Director of Nissan Australia Dan Thompson.
“Nissan believes that, alongside Ford and Holden, we possess the most convincing motorsport DNA and track history in Australia, making a V8SC debut in 2013 an obvious initiative.
“We are targeting No.1 importer status in Australia and already making progress towards that as one of the country’s fastest growing brands. V8 Supercars will boost that momentum.”
The announcement signals the return of Nissan to the top form of touring car racing in Australia after an absence of two decades.
It last ran a factory team with Gibson Motorsport and four-wheel drive Nissan GT-Rs in 1992, claiming the Australian Touring Car Championship with Mark Skaife and the Bathurst 1000 with Skaife and Jim Richards.
V8 Supercars Commission Chairman Mark Skaife, Kelly Racing Chairman John Crennan and Kelly Racing co-owner/drivers Rick and Todd Kelly were also at today’s announcement.
“I couldn't be more excited with the opportunity Nissan has offered Todd, myself and the entire team at Kelly Racing to become their official factory team,” said two-time Bathurst winner Rick Kelly.
“Nissan's genuine enthusiasm, unwavering support and absolute professionalism through this evaluation has been tremendous and underpins their absolute intentions of Championship success in the category - a dream we share and hope to deliver on.”
The model of Nissan that the team will use – and the engine package the car will utilise – will be announced at a later date.
Nissan’s worldwide motorsport activites of late have proven to be strong and successful.
They won last year’s FIA GT1 World Championship with a Nissan GT-R driven by Germans Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm as well as the Japanese SuperGT Championship and took a 1-2 finish in the LMP2 class at the Le Mans 24 Hour.