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However Nissan¹s entry seems to have stalled. The V8 engine for the Nissan Altima which the Kelly Racing Team will race next year has not even been bench tested yet. However, Nissan and the Kelly brothers, Rick and Todd, are not panicking. Nissan Australia motorsport general manager Jeffrey Fisher - one of the architects of Nissan returning to Australia¹s premiere racing category says he is not getting frustrated by the apparent lack of progress on a Nissan-powered V8 Supercar.
“We always knew it was mega job they have to do,” he says. “They’re building a brand new engine from scratch and are building a car that is not even on sale here yet. “They’ve only just started to build the Altima in the US.” Nissan returns to Aussie motorsport next year with four cars built by the Kelly Racing Team for Rick and Todd, plus Karl Reindler and Greg Murphy.
They will be driving cars with a five-litre V8 engine that is a “de-stroked” (shorter-cylinder) version of the Patrol’s new 5.6-litre V8 due in December. The car will be shaped like the “large-ish medium-sized Altima” which Fisher says will go on sale here in the second half of next year. “We always went into the race program with a vehicle that we would sell here,” he says.
“We will be racing the Altima before we sell it, so it’s a great way to get some awareness for it.” Rick Kelly says he is not concerned that championship-leading team Triple 8 has already tested its first completed new V8 Supercar “Car of the Future” (COFT) for the 2013 season at Queensland Raceway. “Triple 8 doesn’t have the same issues we have,” he says.
“Their car is the same shape and has the same engine but we have to design the whole thing from scratch and then get the aero package homologated by V8 Supercars,” he says. “It’s largely in the hands of V8 Supercars and whatever package Nissan is comfortable with.” He confirmed that the V8 engine was still awaiting parts and had not yet been bench tested.
However, he said it would be ready for revealing early next month and the first completed new race car rolled out in October. While the double-overhead cam V8 Nissan engine should have better fuel economy than the Holden and Ford push-rod engines, Fisher says V8 Supercars will equalise the engines. “Every advantage that a team can garner they will have a look at,” he says.
“The equalisation terms are pretty strict. V8 Supercars will do what they need to so there are no obvious advantages. “We already know that the car will need to run some extra weight to get it up to the minimum.” Fisher says Nissan owners are keen for the brand to re-enter the sport. “This is just the kind of tonic the brand needs,” he says.
“There’s a latent fan base out there. “I’m sure it will be a more interesting competition next year.” Kelly says the 2013 series would be more level with all teams having to build new race cars to the new COTF specifications. “This year is unusual with two teams dominating, while last year we won three races,” he says. “Next year (COTF) will even everything out. “However, the teams that are doing well now with managing tyre wear will still be good teams next year so it’s not going to be a free kick for us.”