Nissan backs V8 Supercars program

  • 28/07/2014
  • By Motoring.com.au
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

The struggling Nissan Altima V8 Supercar attack is in no danger of having its factory support pulled despite fears expressed publicly by team co-owner Todd Kelly.

Kelly was quoted in a News Limited report saying the four car squad's lack of results could imperil its relationship with its current group of sponsors, which includes Jack Daniel's and Norton as well as Nissan Australia.

He blamed engine performance for the team's issues and admitted they were still some way from resolution.

But Nissan Australia managing director Richard Emery has forcefully rejected any suggestion that the company is dissatisfied with the efforts of Nissan Motorsport, even though it is the only manufacturer not to win a championship race in 2014.

"I am not upset or disheartened or questioning the program at all," Emery told motoring.com.au.

"I don't need to win for us to be involved in motorsport, if you have that attitude then you are in the wrong sport

"For us motorsport is part of what Nissan is and we want to be part of it. Would we like to be winning some races? Of course, that goes without saying. We want to be competitive each race and that is probably more important and we are not quite there yet."

The four Altimas, driven by Todd and his brother Rick, and Michael Caruso and James Moffat, are powered by a 5.0-litre version of the Nissan VK56DE dohc V8 engines which has been primarily developed in Australia by the Kelly's motor racing operation, which was rebranded as Nissan Motorsport in 2013.

Ultimate horsepower, engine speed and fuel consumption have all been issues.

None of the four drivers are in the top 10 in the Championship and nor have they managed to claim a podium finish in 2014. Caruso, who is 12th on the points table, looked a chance to finish as high as second in the 200km race at the last event in Townsville but ran out of fuel.

The team does not expect the situation to improve at next weekend's championship round at Queensland Raceway. The Altima's sytraight-line speed is hurt when slow corners feed on to straights and there are several times where this happens at the 3.12km circuit.

The help of Nismo in Japan has been enlisted to aid engine development and dialogue continues, but a crucial new cylinder head casting - which has to come from a Nissan plant in the USA - won't be available until 2015.

There has also been talk of gaining permission from V8 Supercars for a redesign of the engine's bore and stroke. But with a cumulative power cap now released for the category, the team believes it can reach competitive numbers without resorting to this costly and time consuming measure.

Kelly told News Limited: "It is a tough situation trying to keep all the fans and sponsors on side when this is the case. It will come to a point where we come to a grinding halt. We can't sustain an uncompetitive team. We need this sorted now.''

Emery said he is sympathetic with the situation, and understands how Kelly and the team feel.

"We would certainly like to be going quicker, particularly in qualifying," Emery said. "I think the frustration for them at the moment is that up to eight spots in qualifying is where that horsepower deficiency is really showing up.

"Once the races get into their runs the cars are capable. So the development program for the engine is ongoing as it has been all year and there are some further steps in that this year.

"For us it is only about finding little bits, but unfortunately in the last month the circuits have tended to have slow corners where that horsepower deficiency has made it hard work.

"We need to keep developing the engine, which we will, to find that anything from five to eight horsepower. We are only talking little bits here, after all we are talking less than second across the entire grid."

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