Nissan Gen2 plans wait on global direction

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 31/07/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Nissan Australia is waiting for the Japanese marque to set its global motorsport direction before committing to a Gen2 Supercars program, says CEO Richard Emery.

Nissan has had a four-car factory Supercars presence since the Next Generation rules debuted in 2013, linking with Kelly Racing to field V8-powered Altimas.

The manufacturer is perfectly placed to capitalise on Supercars’ Gen2 rules due to the variety of V6 turbo options available through in-house engine tuning company Nismo.

Nissan has committed to keeping its existing Altima V8 platform for 2018, which is the second in its current two-year contract with the team to remain in the championship.

Emery says key decisions must be made by the end of the current season, but there has been no recent progress as he waits on Nissan to crystallise its other motorsport plans.

“We’ve got to make some big decisions relatively soon,” Emery told Supercars.com.

“We haven’t advanced that far at this point in time because there is some global stuff going on in the background, some of which I’m party to and some of which I’m not.

“They need to make their calls first and then we’ll see what it means for us.

“They are fully aware how tight our decision making process needs to be… we’ve said we need to know by the end of the season for all sorts of contractual timelines.

“You can always turn around and say we can go like we are for 2019, but that’s something I don’t think we want to do. If we’re going to continue we’d want to refresh the program.”

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A refreshing of the program would almost certainly include a new body shape thanks to the recent axing of the current Altima from Australian showrooms.

Emery noted the body decision is unlikely to come until next year when there is further clarity on Nissan Australia’s future passenger car line-up.

Amid Triple Eight's efforts to develop Holden’s V6 turbo Supercars powerplant, Emery describes the engine equation as relatively straight-forward for Nissan.

“Because Nismo is an engine company, the engine is the least of my problems,” he said.

“It’s keeping everyone else awake at night, but once the call is made and I can tell Nismo we need an engine, the anorak division at Nismo will sit down at their computers and say ‘ok, this is the one that works best and this is what we can do’.

“These guys (Kelly Racing) are more worried about the packaging and how it fits in the chassis, but there’s no doubt that Nismo can offer an engine that would suit.”

Nissan’s alliance with the Kelly team will also be reviewed as part of the upcoming decision-making, but Emery says changing teams ‘hasn’t even crossed my mind at this point in time’.

The squad has endured a difficult start to 2017 with its leading driver Rick Kelly 14th in the championship.

“We’ve had a few frustrations and want to be further up than we are, but for us we’re showing some signs now that we’re getting amongst it. We’re frustrated, but not upset.”

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