Nissan to join V8 supercar grid
THE days of Holden and Ford locking horns for bragging rights in V8 supercar racing are numbered with the category to announce today that Nissan will join the battle from next year.
The Japanese brand will team up with the four-car Kelly Racing outfit that currently races Holden Commodores, but without any factory support from Holden.
Nissan will be the first manufacturer to break the duopoly held by Holden and Ford since the sport adopted a strict requirement in 1993 for V8-powered, rear-wheel-driven cars designed to suit the Commodore and its Ford large-car equivalent, the Falcon.
There is irony in the fact that Nissan will be the first manufacturer to break the local stranglehold as it is the very manufacturer that the category sought to exclude when it drew up new regulations in 1993 to end the dominance of the four-wheel-drive, turbocharged Nissan GT-R.
It's believed that Kelly Racing chairman John Crennan - the man who masterminded the Holden Racing Team's phenomenal success streak in the late 1990s and early 2000s - brokered the deal after speaking with several manufacturers.
Nissan and Chrysler have been linked to V8 Supercars since the category's chairman Tony Cochrane announced last year he would welcome a third brand to the series. The American Chrysler brand has been linked to Garry Rogers Motorsport, another Holden team.
However, Crennan told Auto Action magazine last August that Kelly Racing wanted to stay loyal to Holden and outlined a plan for his squad to replace the Holden Racing Team as Holden's factory-backed squad.
"There seems to be an enormous amount of keenness on behalf of V8 Supercars and certain powerbrokers pushing the barrow that we should be getting involved with another manufacturer, because we have superb facilities and no manufacturer deal," he said at the time.
"I'm tired of these people putting out this line - it would disturb our goal of replacing HRT as the main Holden team at the end of their contract [at the end of the 2012 season]."
A question mark remains over what car Nissan will use for its V8 Supercar entry. It has outlined plans to replace its Maxima - a car that straddles the medium and large passenger car categories - with the similarly sized Altima in 2013.
Although the Altima is not currently available with a V8 engine, it is thought to be the frontrunner for Nissan's Kelly Racing entry.