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by Tim Beissmann

Nissan V8 Supercars driver Rick Kelly says he would jump at the opportunity to provide local tuning assistance for Nissan Australia’s road cars in a partnership similar to that between Sebastian Vettel and Infiniti.

The two-time Bathurst 1000 winner told CarAdvice all his energy is currently being channelled into propelling Nissan’s fledging racing team to the front of the grid, but said diversifying the partnership to include work on road cars was something he would be keen to pursue in the future.

“We love the involvement with Nissan,” Kelly said at the launch of the Nissan Juke in Melbourne.

“They’re a very proactive manufacturer to work with which is a really pleasant change for us. For now the focus is getting the team to the front and we’re putting everything we’ve got into that.

“Once we achieve that and we can maintain it then for sure, it’s definitely on the radar for us … to work with whatever other aspect we can help with on the road car side of things.”

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Kelly believes he and brother Todd and other members of Nissan’s Australian motorsport team would have valuable inputs that could improve the tuning of Nissan’s road cars to give them a unique local flavour, adding that it would be “a good change” from his usual racing commitments.

“We’d love to provide any sort of feedback possible,” Kelly said.

“You’ve got to be a little bit careful when you look at modifying cars because you don’t want to have to go through the whole safety process and ADR and stuff. It would have to be something well thought out and developed.

“Who knows what the future holds. In the short term we’ve got a very big focus and a big task ahead of us in getting the team where it needs to be. One day though.”

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Three-time Formula One world champion Vettel was appointed Infiniti’s ‘director of performance’ in April – a role that the Japanese luxury division says has made the Red Bull Racing driver an integral part of the development of the Infiniti Q50’s dynamics.

Nissan Australia’s new managing director and CEO Peter Jones said there had been no formal discussions about a deepening of the partnership to include work with road cars, but said there could be potential for a program in the future.

“We’re always working with the Kelly brothers, they’re great guys. They’ve never said no to us for anything,” Jones said.

“I haven’t had discussions with them about it yet, so probably something I need to do with them before I make comments.

“We’re really new to racing and you’ve got to really get your brand right in that space before you do that type of thing.

“There’s always scope, but it’s not something we’ve had any discussions about.”

Rick Kelly is currently the best-placed Nissan driver in the V8 Supercars Championship, sitting 13th overall with three rounds to go in the 2013 season.




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