Sydney to serve as shakedown for three new Nissans

Nissan's second chassis, to be raced by Rick Kelly, was present at today's launch

Nissan’s second chassis, to be raced by Rick Kelly, was present at today’s launch

Three of Nissan Motorsport’s four Altima V8 Supercars will head to this weekend’s pre-season test without having enjoyed private shakedowns as the team rushes to be ready for the Sydney Motorsport Park hit-out.

Although Nissan put its first chassis on track as early as last November, the squad’s decision to complete an extensive testing and development program prior to assembling its next three cars means there will be no more track time before the public test.

All four of the team’s drivers – Todd Kelly, Rick Kelly, Michael Caruso and James Moffat – have driven the test chassis, which has been allocated to Moffat for the start of the season.

“Eastern Creek is fine as a shakedown,” team co-owner and driver Todd Kelly told Speedcafe.com at this morning’s launch of the squad’s four-car assault.

“It’s not a race meeting, so we’re happy to go there and iron out any bugs we might find.”

The team’s engine program has played a key role in determining the build timeline of the four cars, with the 5.0 litre version of the quad-cam VK56DE engine still under development.

The complete specification that the squad will compete with at the season-opening Clipsal 500 Adelaide won’t be finalised until after the Sydney test, while further upgrades are expected to follow during the early part of the year .

“We’re still working away on that… the biggest issue is time,” said Kelly of the engine program.

“As soon as we’ve got an engine built we’re having to give it to a car, (so) we can only do a limited amount of (dyno) testing.

“I think we had extremely good (Holden) engines at the end of last year – I think they were right up at the top end of the scale in terms of power through the field,” he added.

“Since Christmas we’ve come a long way from where we were last year with the Nissan engine. We’re really happy with the progression that we’ve made.

“We’re going to have to lock in a spec pretty soon to go to Adelaide with but we’re going to keep working throughout the whole first part of the year and I’m confident we’ll get back to where we were by the second or third round.”

Having locked down the basics of its aerodynamic package following the three-car comparison running alongside the Ford FG and Holden VE last October, only minor tweaks to the Nissan were required during the latest four-car test earlier this month.

Although not on display at this morning’s team launch in Melbourne, the changes include the addition of a small gurney flap across the trailing edge of the bootlid.

The formerly Kelly Racing outfit has made wholesale changes to its engineering line-up ahead of the 2013 season, in addition to switching to a new damper package.

CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s separate story on the changes

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