Nissan to race in V8 Supercars Championship in 2013
Nissan will join the V8 Supercars Championship in 2013 and become the first new manufacturer to enter the sport under its new ‘Car of the Future’ rulebook. The news was announced today at a press conference in the River Room at Crown Casino in Melbourne. The Japanese car giant will take on Holden and Ford in next year’s championship – the first run under new ‘Car of the Future’ rules.
Kelly Racing has signed with Nissan to become the company’s factory team and will run four cars next year from their Melbourne workshop. The team will have the full support of the giant NISMO Nissan Motorsport organisation. Announcing the news today was Nissan Australia Managing Director and CEO Dan Thompson, Ian Moreillon (Executive General Manager, Sales and Fleet, Nissan Australia), V8 Supercars Chairman Tony Cochrane and V8 Supercars CEO David Malone.
“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.”
The announcement signals the return of Nissan to the top form of touring car racing in Australia after an absence of two decades. It last ran a factory team with Gibson Motorsport and four-wheel drive Nissan GT-Rs in 1992, claiming the Australian Touring Car Championship with Mark Skaife and the Bathurst 1000 with Skaife and Jim Richards.
V8 Supercars Commission Chairman Mark Skaife, Kelly Racing Chairman John Crennan and Kelly Racing co-owner/drivers Rick and Todd Kelly were also at today’s announcement.
“I couldn’t be more excited with the opportunity Nissan has offered Todd, myself and the entire team at Kelly Racing to become their official factory team,” said two-time Bathurst winner Rick Kelly. “Nissan’s genuine enthusiasm, unwavering support and absolute professionalism through this evaluation has been tremendous and underpins their absolute intentions of Championship success in the category – a dream we share and hope to deliver on.”
The model of Nissan that the team will use – and the engine package the car will utilise – will be announced at a later date. Nissan’s worldwide motorsport activities of late have proven to be strong and successful. They won last year’s FIA GT1 World Championship with a Nissan GT-R driven by Germans Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm as well as the Japanese SuperGT Championship and took a 1-2 finish in the LMP2 class at the Le Mans 24 Hour.
Rick Kelly, Kelly Racing Co-Owner/Driver
“This new partnership has only been made possible by the endless amount of hard work that John Crennan has done for Kelly Racing on this project, and that of Ian Moreillon, Jeff Fisher and the team at Nissan of which Todd and I are very grateful. The Nissan COTF project is a huge undertaking however Todd and I are firmly focused on the job at hand this season ensuring that Kelly Racing takes those important steps forward on and off the race track. Development of our cars and recruitment of key personnel in the off-season should assist us to realise these immediate goals. This new partnership brings with it a host of opportunities for the team, our business partners and of course fans and delivers the vision that we have shared since our inception in the category in 2009.”
Todd Kelly, Kelly Racing Co-Owner/Driver
“Rick and I have had one clear goal that we have been striving for since we started Kelly Racing, that was to become a benchmark race-winning team with factory support. The timing with Car of the Future has enabled us to engage a manufacturer and achieve that. We couldn’t be happier to be a factory Nissan team and factory Nissan drivers.”
Tony Cochrane, V8 Supercars Chairman
“We welcome Nissan with more than open arms. This announcement ratifies all we have known about V8 Supercars for a long time – that we are an international player, a growing following globally and in great demand by big business and corporate players. I also applaud Kelly Racing for this pioneering move to embrace Nissan and take one of the world’s biggest brands on their journey within the V8 Supercar Championship. Todd and Rick are truly remarkable businessmen, visionaries and drivers.”
Mark Skaife, V8 Supercars Commission Chairman
“This opens up a whole new chapter for V8 Supercars. The sport and the brand have been so successful over such a long period of time with today’s news reinforcing the direction of the business, coupled with imminent international expansion to multiple destinations globally. Nissan has clearly acknowledged V8 Supercars as a major component of their future plans within the Australian car market and motorsport internationally. V8 Supercars will deliver on their expectations. There is no doubting the entry of more manufacturers now that Nissan has taken the first step to recognise what the relationship will do for their brand.”