Nissan has returned to Australian touring car racing to end the long-running Ford versus Holden V8 Supercars duopoly.
Updates from live press conference:
The Japanese brand today confirmed it would enter the V8 Supercars championship in 2013, returning to the sport from which it was effectively banned in 1993 after its all-wheel-drive GT-R coupe dominated the series in 1991 and 1992 to earn the nickname ‘Godzilla’.
Mark Skaife was one of the drivers at the wheel during the GT-R’s successful campaign, and ironically its the multi-title-winning champion’s Car of the Future blueprint that has paved the way for the return of Nissan, as well as potentially more rivals such as Chrysler.
Kelly Racing has signed on with Nissan to become the company’s main factory team and will run four cars next year from their Melbourne workshop.
“We plan to use our presence in the series to strengthen our passenger car credentials in Australia,” said CEO and Managing Director of Nissan Australia Dan Thompson.
“Nissan believes that, alongside Ford and Holden, we possess the most convincing motorsport DNA and track history in Australia, making a V8SC debut in 2013 an obvious initiative.
“We are targeting No.1 importer status in Australia and already making progress towards that as one of the country’s fastest growing brands. V8 Supercars will boost that momentum.”
Mr Thompson said today’s announcement is the result of over 12 months worth of work on how the company can re-enter motorsports in Australia. He also said the car to enter will be an all-new Sedan, which makes us believe it will be the new Nissan Altima.
Mr Thompson said Nissan would not have entered the V8 Supercar series if it couldn’t put a Nissan engine in the cars. Which means we’re likely to see one of the two V8 engines we mentioned yesterday.
The news has got the championship organisers rather excited, with V8 Supercars Commission Chairman Mark Skaife, Kelly Racing Chairman John Crennan and Kelly Racing co-owner/drivers Rick and Todd Kelly all present at today’s announcement.
Despite a picture of the drivers with a Nissan GT-R, the actual car to be used in the series is yet to be announced with Nissan expected to make that decision at a later date.
Mark Skaife said Nissan is a company that is truly committed to motorsport and is the first new manufacturer to join the car of the future series, suggesting that other manufacturers may likely follow suit.
The Nissan GTR will be the official Course Car and Safety car for the 2012 season.