The Supercars community has been hit by the news today that Nissan will be withdrawing its support from the category at the end of this season.
The announcement comes after months of speculation around the Japanese marque’s future in the Australian series, having been run by the Kelly Racing operation since 2013.
After joining the dominating the Australian Touring Car Championship in the early 1990s, which ultimately led to the V8 formula being introduced, Nissan returned to Supercars in 2013 at the start of the Car of the Future era.
In the six seasons since, the manufacturer has only won two races (James Moffat at Winton in 2013 and Michael Caruso at Hidden Valley in 2016) and has struggled to make an impression at the top of the standings.
The departure of Nissan Austrralia CEO Richard Emery was a shock in the middle of last year but perhaps alluded to Nissan’s plans given his constant and passionate advocacy of motorsport to help promote the brand.
With the Gen2 rules being officially implemented at the beginning of 2017, there was a big push from the Nissan faithful to commit. Would they run a GT-R? Would it have the ballistic V6 Twin Turbo which has been refined in the GT3 car or would they use the existing Supercars engine?
Ultimately, the company never thought the GT-R was on the cards and didn’t launch a viability study in to it. After all, why would you try to market one car across both GT3 racing and Supercars?
While Nissan is pulling funding from Kelly Racing, the Melbourne based team will carry on running their Nissan Altimas next year in similar fashion to Tickford Racing and DJR Team Penske after Ford’s departure in 2015.
The last major update for the Altima came in 2015 with the mid-mounted rear wing being changed to side mounts. Minor changes have happened since including the addition of composite panels from Melbourne onwards this season.