After months of backwards-and-forwards between Australia and Japan, Nissan has re-committed to its factory-backed team contesting the Australian Supercars Championship.
It’s ‘steady-as-she-goes’ for Nissan as it continues in seasons 2017/18 with a four car team run by the Kelly family. Driver Michael Caruso has also re-signed for another two years.
However, perhaps underlining the fact the local - and very costly - Altima racing program is an orphan in the Nissan Motorsports global world, Nissan Australia also confirmed its entry of two Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 racers in the Bathurst 12-Hour and its participation in the Australian GT Championship from next year with Nissan GT Academy star Matt Simmons likely to be one of the drivers.
The GT Championship Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 campaign really kicks-off this year as the team will race in the final two races of the 2016 GT Championship at Hampton Downs and Highlands Park in New Zealand.
The GT-R - and definitely not the Altima - is the car Nissan uses for its global motorsports program. That is a program which was very much kick-started by the local Gibson Motorsports/Nissan GT-R victories in the Bathurst 1000 in the 1990s.
This was recognized by Michael Carcamo, Nissan’s Global Motorsports Director at today’s announcement ahead of this weekend’s Sandown 500. He said: “Our efforts in the Bathurst 12-Hour over the past two years have further intrinsically linked Mount Panorama and the GT-R. They already had incredible history together but this has now gone to a new level.”
While Caruso is the only driver confirmed for the Altima squad in the Supercars Championship, team bosses Todd and Rick Kelly will likely fill two of the remaining seats and speculation continues that Simona de Silvestro will follow-up her Bathurst race with the team this year by claiming the fourth Nissan seat for a permanent crack at the Championship.
But race teams don’t run on charity and finding the commercial funding to back the team continues to be the responsibility of the Kelly brothers so rumours persist there could be up to two seats in the Nissan team available for drivers with a sponsorship budget and that leaves Dale Wood also a chance.