Japanese car giant Nissan is to enter the V8 Supercar championship from 2013, the first new manufacturer to join Australia's leading motorsports series since the start of the cost-cutting Car of the Future program designed to make the series more appealing and financially accessible to car makers.
Nissan will run four cars with the up-and-coming Kelly Racing organisation, under the banner of Nissan Motorsport which will be operated as a formalised factory team developing its own cars and engines, utilising the global resources of the NISMO motorsport organisation.
The news was warmly greeted by V8 Supercar Chairman Tony Cochrane.
"We welcome Nissan with more than open arms,” he said. "This announcement confirms all we have known about V8 Supercars for a long, long time - that we are truly an international player, an extraordinarily popular sport amongst fans globally and in great demand by big business and corporate players."
Rick Kelly, a V8 Supercar champion and multiple Bathurst winner who co-owns the Kelly Racing team with his brother and fellow driver Todd, was delighted with the major opportunity the announcement presents to his organisation.
“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,” he said. “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."
“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,” added Todd Kelly. “Nissan is a fantastic brand that we will all be extremely proud to represent and their international motorsport heritage and engineering capabilities are both key factors in our new relationship that will help us achieve our goals.”
Dan Thompson, the Managing Director and CEO of Nissan Australia, was clear about Nissan's motives for joining the series in 2013.
"Nissan believes that, alongside Ford and Holden, we possess the most convincing motorsport DNA and track history in Australia, making a V8 Supercars début in 2013 an obvious initiative," he said. “We plan to use our presence in the series to strengthen our passenger car credentials in Australia.
"We are targeting No.1 importer status in Australia and already making progress towards that as one of the country's fastest growing brands," Thompson added. "V8 Supercars will boost that momentum.”