Nissan wants 2015 wins and top five

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 19/12/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

Nissan has set the bar high for its factory V8 Supercars attack in 2015 - expecting race wins and a top five finish in the drivers' championship.

The benchmark was revealed by Nissan Australia boss Richard Emery, who said he expected the four-car Altima squad to come out of the blocks firing with important engine upgrades next year.

The aerodynamic package of the Altima is also up for review over the summer, but Emery indicated there was now some debate within the team about the merit of making major changes.

He also revealed Nissan was throwing its corporate muscle behind the Kelly-family owned team's search for new sponsorship funding in 2015 to replace Norton. Jack Daniel's is also due up for renewal, but is expected to return.

After claiming a win in its first season in 2013 via James Moffat, no Nissan driver was able to stand atop the rostrum in 2014.

However, Moffat and Taz Douglas did finish second in the 2014 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and Michael Caruso was fast all-season, claiming a third place with Dean Fiore in the Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600 and 10th overall in the championship.

Overall the four Nissan drivers finished 10th (Caruso), 13th (Rick Kelly), 16th (James Moffat) and 22nd (Todd Kelly). In 2103 Rick Kelly was 14th, Moffat 18th, Caruso 23rd and Todd Kelly 25th.

"We want to give ourselves the chance of winning some races next year and finishing in the top five in the championship," Emery told v8supercars.com.au. "So we have to put everything into next year.

"It means getting the car up to speed," he added. "Everyone knows we have been looking at the aero to see if we can tweak the aero and we have a new engine stage to start next season.

"There is still another step in the engine program ... there is some work being done by Nismo in America for us to do a cylinder head change. So hopefully there is a step there."

Since debuting in the championship in 2013, Nissan Motorsport has been working frantically hard to bring the 5.0-litre version of the Nissan VK56DE multi-cam V8 engine up to full competitiveness against the established pushrod rivals from Ford and Holden.

Nissan's global motorsport division, Nismo, has become more deeply involved in the program in 2014, while Nissan Australia has also upped its financial investment in the V8's development.

Emery said the team's technical department, led by Todd Kelly, faced a dilemma over revising the aero package of the Altima. Official V8 Supercars aerodynamic testing of the Altima, Holden Commodore VF and Ford Falcon FG X is scheduled for mid-January.

"I think the guys have a bit of dilemma now as to what is the gain in aero," Emery explained. "It (a change to the aero package) might take from somewhere else because the car is quite sticky in the high speed corners.

"Do you want to take some of that away just to gain a coupe of km/h at top speed.

"They are the things I will leave to them to decide how to move into next year, but I think it is still up for debate for next year whereas the engine program is ongoing."

However, Nissan is not leaving it up to the team alone when it comes to commercial arrangements.

While batting back rumours Nissan would increase its spend, Emery revealed potential commercial partners were being reminded of the benefits of becoming involved with a factory-backed operation.

"We are trying to make sure when they (Nissan Motorsport) do talk to potential sponsors and supporters that (they know) there are some clear advantages in terms of what Nissan can add to the program, such as in terms of the marketing activation programs we do.

"So it's not just what you extract out of the team resources, there are other elements we can be involved in."

One potential business-to-business carrot Nissan could drop in front of automotive suppliers is its 200-plus dealer network and contracts to provide them with products required for servicing such as lubricants, brake pads and tyres. The dollar return from that would far outweigh the cost of buying the naming rights to a couple of Nissan V8 Supercars.

The normally straight shooting Emery's response to that theory was smilingly deflective: "There are all sorts of things..."

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