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Wednesday, 06 December 2017 15:07

Analysis: Where to for Nissan Motorsport?


Nissan had the biggest factory-backed presence in Supercars in 2017, but that isn’t translating into results as head office weighs up its future in the category. We examine where to now for Nissan Motorsport in V8X Supercar Magazine issue #101.

Issue #101 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.

CLICK HERE for more information on issue #101.

Nissan hasn’t had an easy time in its return to top-flight Australian touring cars under Supercars’ Car of the Future regulations.

As the first non-Ford and Holden entrant into Supercars, Nissan paved the way for other manufacturers but also paid the price for being first on board. Engine and aerodynamic parity issues set Nissan Motorsport back in terms of competitiveness with the Altima V8. And, in many ways, the team has never recovered from those setbacks.

The recent departure of Nissan Australia CEO Richard Emery has only intensified speculation over the manufacturer’s involvement in Australian motorsport.

Emery championed Nissan’s involvement in Supercars and the Bathurst 12 Hour. Under his watch, Nissan extended its backing of the team formerly known as Kelly Racing for a further two years in 2017 and 2018.

Stephen Lester, the former managing director of Infiniti Canada, steps into the role of Nissan Australia CEO and will lead the manufacturer at a critical juncture.

Nissan Motorsport will continue with the Altima body and V8-powered VK56DE engine into 2018, though the Altima is longer sold in Australian showrooms leaving no four-door sedan in the manufacturer’s line-up.

The Gen2 rules allow Nissan to resort to its performance arm NISMO’s racing line-up, namely the GT-R 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that’s a regular in GT3 racing around the world, including the Bathurst 12 Hour.

Switching to the GT-R twin-turbo in Supercars will align Nissan with Holden’s new engine platform, which comes into place in 2019. And the aligning with NISMO’s racing program saves Nissan the costs incurred by developing the Altima V8.

But a switch to the GT-R twin-turbo would see Nissan Motorsport have to forgo all six years-worth of development into its V8 engine. Plus, running the GT-R in both Supercars and GTs raises the question of differentiation between the two, something which Emery raised as a concern and is an ongoing issue for Supercars into Gen2.

If Nissan was starting from scratch, it would race the GT-R twin-turbo in Supercars by relying on NISMO’s expertise and turn its domestic development into running the Navara in the new-look SuperUtes series.

However, the costly years of the Altima V8, which has produced just a handful of podiums, leaves Nissan at the crossroads.

CLICK HERE to purchase issue #101.