Nissan Australia is yet to decide whether it will run a GT-R racer in the next generation of V8 Supercars or stick with its current Altima-based cars.
The brand this week moved to clarify its position on whether the iconic Nissan supercar would make a return to Australia’s top category in 2017 and beyond.
The posturing follows conflicting stories in recent weeks in mainstream print and electronic media. A News Corporation reporter told the panel on FoxSport’s Inside Supercars program that the GT-R’s return was imminent, then Fairfax newspaper sources poured cold water on the story stating the cult car would not be on the grid.
But in a wide ranging interview with motoring.com.au after the weekend’s Le Mans 24 hour, Nissan Australia CEO Richard Emery (pictured) said that nothing has been decided and that in fact he was concerned how a GT-R entry into V8 Supercars would be perceived.
“We’ve had discussions with Nissan global on the Supercars program. [But] We need to see if it [GT-R] suits the rules and suits the brand,” Emery told motoring.com.au.
“Yes [2017 rule changes] does give us an opportunity in terms of engines and a potential opportunity around body shells…
“[But] It’s not the lay-down misere as many people think – that because the rules are open to do a coupe, we’ll just do a GT-R because that’s our motorsport product,” he explained.
“It’s not that simple. It certainly has’t been decided or determined yet,” Emery stated.
GT-R occupies a special place in Nissa’s range and in the brand’s ‘folklore’. Emery says it’s this status that makes the decision complex.
“The GT-R is a very closely held, iconic brand in the Nissan world. It stands for innovation and for high technology… All those sorts of things… And I’m worried about what that GT-R stands for and how it would be perceived going into V8 supercars. Not just by our owners but by the Nissan Motor Companyorganisation globally” he stated.
Emery told motoring.com.au he was keen to make “longer term decisions” about the company’s local motorsport program but admitted Nissan Australia and the company globally was frustrated with aspects of V8 Supercars’ rules and regulations.
“I spent time with both Darren [Cox] and Miyatani-san [Shoichi Miyatani, NISMO President] because one thing I want to make sure is whatever we do [that] it is fully supported and is seen as part of the global program.
“That has’t always been the case with our program up to this point and any position going forward for us it needs to be a whole of business decision so we do get the full support [of Nissan internationally].
Emery said Nissa’s international support had been consistent but defined it as “a year-by-year thing”.
“That’s not good for our long term planning. I want to make a longer term decision and that means I need a longer term commitment whether that be from NISMO, whether it be the global motorsport program,” he told motoring.com.au.
Emery said it was “frustrating” that of three V8 racing engines already existing in the Nissan armoury, “none of them could be made to work in the restrictive environment that is V8 Supercars”.
But the local Nissan chief said 2017’s new rulebook would likely remedy that situation.
“We’ll give [Nismo] a copy of the [new] rules… They’ll probably look at them and say that engine will work, we can make that engine work, which one do you [Nissan Australia] want to use, and then we’ll have a proper technical discussion.
“Having said that, by the time we get to the end of next year, us together with the Kellys have spent a lot of money and the current V8 engine… Do I want to put those in the bin… That’s another discussion we have to have,” Emery stated.
As can be viewed at www.motoring.com.au