A factory-backed Nissan GT-R will return to Mount Panorama next year, more than two decades after its ancestor scored consecutive Bathurst 1000 victories.
Nissan Motorsport V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly will compete in February’s Bathurst 12 Hour in a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 prepared by Nismo’s factory outfit from Japan, the Nismo Athlete Global Team.
Nissan global motorsport director Darren Cox said selecting the Bathurst 12 Hour as a key part of the manufacturer’s 2014 racing program further cemented Australasia as a critical element of its global motorsport plans.
“Mount Panorama is one of the world’s iconic racing circuits and the Nissan GT-R has incredible history there,” Cox said.
“We are pleased to be at Bathurst with Nissan Motorsport in V8 Supercars this October, and then again with the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 next February for the Bathurst 12 Hour.
“Our Nismo entry in the Bathurst 12 Hour is an important part of our Nismo Global Driver Exchange and we are excited to have Rick Kelly as an Australian element of this entry next February.”
Kelly, 30, has competed in the Bathurst 1000 on 12 occasions, winning in 2003 and 2004, but the 2014 event will be his maiden start in the 12 Hour race.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to race a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 at the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour,” said Kelly.
“The GT-R is an amazing car in its standard form, so in Nismo GT3 race-specification, I think it will be capable of great things.”
Kelly said Nismo has been keeping a close eye on Nissan’s V8 Supercars program since the initial announcement to return to the sport was made.
“We’ve had strong and open dialogue with them and I think this is the start of what we can make happen in the future,” he said.
“The car will be capable of winning, and Nissan’s history at Bathurst is well documented, especially with the GT-R, aka ‘Godzilla’. We’ll be giving it our best shot.”
Next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour will mark the first time a factory-backed Nissan GT-R has competed at the mountain since the early 1990s when Mark Skaife and Jim Richards went back-to-back in 1991 and 1992.
The 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour will be held on February 7-9.