Mike Stevens | Feb 9, 2012

Nissan is back in Australia's premier racing series, and you can thank the Car of the Future project spearheaded by former Skyline-piloting driver Mark Skaife.

Taking on V8 Supercar veteran manufacturers Ford and Holden, Nissan also announced the signing of Todd and Rick Kelly's Kelly Racing Team as the company's factory team.

"We plan to use our presence in the series to strengthen our passenger car credentials in Australia,” Nissan Australia CEO and Managing Director of Nissan Australia, Dan Thompson said.

"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 new factory team, which forms a local initiative benefiting from the backing of Nissan's international racing and tuning arm NISMO, will run four cars in the 2013 championship.

"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," Kelly Racing co-owner and driver, Todd Kelly said.

"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."

Nissan has yet to reveal which car it will campaign in the 2013 series, although it is known that the car will utilise the same Car of the Future platform and control elements featured in the Holden and Ford cars.

Speaking today, local Nissan boss Dan Thompson confirmed that the car will represent an "all-new model" in the brand's Australian line-up - suggesting that the upcoming next-generation Altima sedan is a lock for the job.

Nissan Australia is expected to retire the current J32 Maxima to make way for the 2013 Altima.

The Maxima nameplate may not die off locally, however underwhelming sales of the J32 Maxima (sold as the Nissan Teana in its home market of Japan) is reportedly giving Nissan Australia little reason to hang onto it.


Nissan Racing

Nissan cars have raced in Australia since the 60s, and the Nissan company itself entered the local racing scene in the early 80s, when it tackled Bathurst in Group C, and later in Group A.

Today's news marks Nissan brand's first return to top-level touring car racing in Australia since Skaife and Jim Richards piloted the R32 Skyline GT-R in 1992, taking out the Australian Touring Car Championship and the Bathurst 1000.

Nissan's recent international challenges have seen victories at last year’s FIA GT1 World Championship with a GT-R, along with the SuperGT Championship. The company also took a 1-2 finish in the LMP2 class at the Le Mans 24 Hour.

In 2013, 21 years since its last factory effort in Australia, Nissan will back on the track, and it will be looking for fans - and sales growth - to follow.

As for more competitors, V8 Supercars Commission boss Mark Skaife has confirmed that the group is in discussion with other manufacturers.

"There is no doubting the entry of more manufacturers now that Nissan has taken the first step to recognize what the relationship will do for their brand," Skaife said.

V8 Supercar boss Tony Cochrane added that at the start of the 2013 series, four manufacturers are expected to be on the grid.

Names have not been named, but it is believed that US carmaker Chrysler will form the next entry in the series, supporting the launch of the next-generation 300C.


The Competition

Series veteran Holden has welcomed the news of a third entrant in the 2013 V8SC Championship.

“The new car market has changed dramatically over the past few years creating many challenges for local manufacturers,” Devereux said.

“Understandably, V8 Supercars has seen the need to alter its requirements to encourage more manufacturers into the category to keep it relevant.

“The introduction of another manufacturer does not waiver our commitment; in fact we are excited about the challenge and it will add yet another chapter to our proud motorsport history."

Nissan's return could also prove a relief for fans of the series, after Holden cars took victory in 24 of 28 championship races in 2011, along with HRT winning the 2011 Bathurst 1000.

Let us help you save time and money on a New Nissan
Name required
Last Name should be a hidden field. Please delete if you are a real person.
Valid Phone required
Valid Email required
Valid Postcode required
Thank you for your enquiry.
One of our accredited supply network will be in touch in the next 24 hours.
Or Call 1300 438 639
To get a great deal from our national accredited supply network.
Follow Mike Stevens on Google+