The Nissan GT-R will make a return to the Bathurst 12 Hour in February 2014 as part of a new Nismo Global Driver Exchange program.
Nissan Motorsport V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly will spearhead the driver team for the famous Australian endurance race.
It marks the first time in more than two decades that Nissan has entered a factory-backed Nissan GT-R at the 6.2km Mount Panorama race track. Jim Richards and Mark Skaife won back-to-back Bathurst 1000s in 1991 and 1992 driving a third-generation Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R.
Driving the 405kW/637Nm GT-R Nismo GT3 racecar, Rick Kelly will be joined by yet-to-be-decided young international drivers from the Nismo Global Driver Exchange Program, many of whom graduated from the Gran Turismo Academy video game school, such as Spaniard Lucas Ordonez.
Competing under the 'Nismo Athlete Global Team' banner, the fully factory-backed team is based out of Yokohama in Japan, and has so far confirmed it will contest three global endurance motorsport events: the Sepang 12 Hour race in Malaysia (August 2013), the Nurburgring 1000km race in Germany (September 2013) and Bathurst 12 Hour event in Australia (February 2014).
Nissan Global Motorsport Director Darren Cox said Bathurst will play a key part in the company's global motorsport expansion and is proof of the impact Nissan Motorsport has had in the V8 Supercars championship.
"In selecting the Bathurst 12 Hour as a key part of our 2014 racing program, Nissan has further cemented Australasia as a critical element of our global motorsport plans," said Cox.
"Mount Panorama is one of the world’s iconic racing circuits and the Nissan GT-R has incredible history there. We are pleased to be at Bathurst with Nissan Motorsport in V8 Supercars this October, and then again with the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 next February for the Bathurst 12 Hour," he stated.
Rick Kelly's confirmation for the Bathurst 12 Hour race will mark his first start in the event, but the 2006 V8 Supercars champion has contested the Bathurst 1000 event 12 times and won it twice (2003, 2004) so he will be instrumental in the team's pursuit of victory.
Darren Cox explained: "Our Nismo entry in the Bathurst 12 Hour is an important part of our 'Nismo Global Driver Exchange' and we are excited to have Rick Kelly as an Australian element of this entry next February".
Kelly himself reckons the GT-R can once again be king of the mountain and win the Bathurst 12 Hour race, and is equally excited at the prospect of driving a GT3 racecar.
"The car will be capable of winning and Nissa's history at Bathurst is well documented, especially with the GT-R, aka 'Godzilla'. We’ll be giving it our best shot," said Kelly.
"The GT-R is an amazing car in its standard form, so in Nismo GT3 race-specification I think it will be capable of great things.
"Nismo has kept a very keen eye on our V8 Supercars program since we announced we were bringing Nissan back to the sport here in Australia. We’ve had strong and open dialogue with them and I think this is the start of what we can make happen in the future," said Kelly, hinting at more domestic GT-R motorsport forays in the future.
"It’s exciting that this entry will form part of the Nismo Global Driver Exchange," he added. "It’s fantastic that Nissan is not only committed to an entry in the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour, but is also sending drivers from its extensive global motorsport program to the event," added Kelly.
The announcement comes after Nissan Motorsport's return to the V8 Supercars championship this year with a four-car Nissan Altima team. The Nissan Altima production vehicle will go on sale in Australia in the fourth quarter of 2013.
As Nismo ramps up its local and international motorsport ventures, there's also the increased likelihood of a range of Nismo performance parts and even the potential of a locally-tuned Nismo Altima in 2014.
Nismo has already tuned several vehicles in its range, none of which are available in Australia yet, such as the Juke Nismo, GT-R Nismo and 370Z Nismo.
We also support a large range of the late model Nissans using EcuTek tuning software - click here to find out more.
Replicated from www.carsales.com.au