Kelly: Production-based race engines the future of V8 Supercars
Kelly Racing owner/driver Todd Kelly expects Ford and Holden to follow Nissan’s lead in introducing road-car based engines to its V8 Supercar programs in the future.
Kelly was joined by Nissan Australia heavyweights at his team’s Braeside, Melbourne, workshop this morning to reveal the engine that the company will use to propel its entry into the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship.
CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s story from earlier today
As previously reported, the motor is a variant of the VK56 series engine that is currently used in a range of Nissan road vehicles globally, and will be introduced into the Australian market next year in the 2013 model Patrol SUV.
V8 Supercars’ COTF regulations enable all participating manufacturers to homologate new engines, with Ford team representatives having already stated a desire to move to a Coyote-based unit in the coming years.
According to Kelly, the use of bespoke blocks and cylinder heads in V8 Supercar racing may soon be a thing of the past.
“It (running a road-car based engine) makes complete sense,” said Kelly, who flew to Winton to complete a test day with his team following this morning’s launch.
“The relevance that the VK56 has to Nissan and Nissan road cars is huge, and that’s a good thing.
“I think eventually Ford and Holden will have to move in that direction to have more relevance to what they actually sell.
“You can get the same block and cylinder head on a car that you can walk into the showroom and buy, which is really what V8 Supercars was originally all about.”
Also speaking to Speedcafe.com at today’s launch, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO William F Peffer Jr underlined the importance of the road-car relevance to his company.
“What we’re most excited about in this whole program is the fact that this is the first actual association (in V8 Supercars) with a manufacturer with a production engine – our competitors don’t have that in this market,” he said.
He added when asked if the absence of a V8 from the Altima range dilutes the ‘road relevance’ message: “If you look at the NASCAR series in the US, those engines are all V8s and in platforms that don’t necessarily carry V8 power trains as standard equipment.
“The key is that we produce this engine and it will go into our Patrol in this market starting in 2013.”
The engine unveiled by Kelly this morning is expected to be ready for its first dyno test within two weeks. Once the team’s own durability testing process has been completed, the engine will be sent to V8 Supercars for parity evaluations.
Kelly admits that the current specification may produce “too much mid-range and not enough top end” compared to the existing Ford and Holden engines, but says he expects that balancing of power, torque and fuel economy numbers to be a relatively simple process.
The team plans on having a pool of 14 engines in play by the time the 2013 championship kicks-off next March, adding a further four to the program by the conclusion of next season.