Tony O'Kane | Sep 4, 2012

Nissan Motorsport has lifted the covers off the VK56-based V8 engine that will power its four entrants in next year's V8 Supercars season.

Based on the 5.6 litre VK56DE naturally-aspirated V8 used by the new Y63 Patrol and US-market Pathfinder, the race engine is extensively modified by Kelly Racing in Victoria to comply with V8 Supercars regulations.

Key differences include a dry sump lubrication system, a de-stroked crank and cylinder liners to drop displacement to 5.0 litres, the deletion of the factory variable valve timing system and Mahle pistons with a 10:1 compression ratio.

The heads and block are largely standard, while key parts of the valvetrain, water pump, exhaust and inlet manifold are supplied by Nissan's factory motorsports arm, Nismo.

Other components, like the carbon fibre intake tract, cam covers, timing chain cover and accessory drive are engineered and fabricated by Kelly Racing.

The Nissan engine is a significant departure from those used by the existing Ford and Holden-backed V8 Supercar teams.

For starters, it uses an alloy block instead of a cast-iron one, and the heads use twin overhead camshafts with four valves per cylinder, rather than pushrods and two-valve heads.

Nissan Motorsport's engine is also expected to weigh between 15kg and 20kg lighter than the iron-blocked Ford and Holden engines, and will likely need to have ballast bolted to it to achieve weight parity.

One other crucial difference: the Nissan Motorsports VK56DE, although heavily modified, is built around a volume production passenger car engine, while the Holdens and Fords on the V8 Supercars grid make use of racing-specific motors.

As for the car this engine will go into, Nissan Motorsport co-owner Todd Kelly says that much of the Altima's bodyshell will require little modification to be race-ready.

"We've been extremely lucky with this car, it's almost like it's been designed to fit around a COTF chassis. We haven't actually had to cut anything," Kelly said, speaking at Kelly Racing's Braeside facility.

"Things like cutting a roof skin and trying to make it blend nicely and cutting through the middle of the rear doors - like we've done to-date with Holden - won't have to happen with the Nissan, which saves a lot of time.

"All we've done is slightly blended the front guards to get the wheelbase spot-on, and other than the flaring of the front and rear guards the [V8 Altima] is almost identical to the road car."

However, while the Altima race car's silhouette will be a close match for the production model, Kelly Racing (which will be re-branded Nissan Motorsport at the start of 2013) has had to add more drag to the Altima's slippery shape to bring it into line with its competitors.

"We've worked extremely closely with V8 Supercars, right from when we got the CAD in late February," Kelly said.

"We've raised the body a little bit on our car to try and induce a bit of drag. The [Altima] is a lot slipperier than what the Fords and Holdens are.

"We've had to do quite a few things to try and induce drag into the design of the car. We've raised the body on the car slightly, it is actually higher in certain parts compared to the Ford and Holden.

"We've complied with all of the minimum width dimensions that the Ford and Holden have, so the actual glasshouse of the car is nearly identical in dimensions.

"It's really just the windscreen angles that are a lot flatter, and where drag will be an issue.

"But we've designed a lot of drag into the components that we have been able to design, like sideskirts and especially the front bar, to try and induce a bit of drag but still achieve the same amount of downforce [as the competitors]."

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