Nissan Motorsport will have its chance to prove critics wrong when its cars revert back to the regular E85 blend fuel on Sunday.
The team’s stunning one-two finish in Race 25 was somewhat overshadowed post-race by the fact that the breakthrough result had coincided with the trialling of a 70 percent ethanol fuel blend in the James Moffat and Michael Caruso driven Nissans.
The change, which also included the use of the E70 in Maro Engel’s Mercedes, was made to evaluate the potential use of the fuel in all seven four-valve engined cars for the remainder of the season in an attempt to balance fuel economy.
The move was signed off by all teams on Friday at Winton, with experienced two-valve engine builders confirming to Speedcafe.com that a performance advantage would not arise from the change.
Despite V8 Supercars reiterating post-race that there was no advantage, a spokesman confirmed that the E85 will be used in all cars on Sunday, adding that the continued use of the fuel was always going to be evaluated on a session-by-session basis.
Race winner James Moffat admitted in the post-race media conference that he was disappointed by the references to ‘jungle juice’.
“(I’m) a little bit annoyed because I know it will get to the team guys more than anything,” he said.
“They’ve worked their backsides off to get us to this stage and it’s taken a bit of the gloss off.
“A one-two at this level of motor racing is nothing to be sneezed at.”
Nissan’s motorsport manager Jeff Fisher added that a negative reaction to the result from some quarters was to be expected.
“We’re actually at or below regular horsepower ratings with this fuel,” he said.
“I think there’s a bit of conjecture going on but that’s to be expected, especially with a one-two finish. There is some surprise around (that we won), which makes me very happy.”
In the post-race press conference, Jason Bright had called for the entire field to be reverted to the E85 for Sunday.
“This track was going to suit them for sure, there’s no doubt that the cars have got good downforce and they’ve been quick on every track with a large number of corners,” he said when asked if he was surprised by the speed of the Norton cars.
“Who knows whether the fuel is making a difference at the moment. I’m not an engine builder and I don’t think everyone has had enough time with it to make a difference.
“In a perfect world I’d like to see them run without it tomorrow. They’ve got good data to compare their economy and pace with today, so if they win tomorrow, then no one has got anything to complain about.”
Further adding to the conspiracies, Engel’s SP Tools Mercedes – the only one of the German cars running the E70 – had been the top performing Mercedes in qualifying and the race.
The two Nissans running the E85, driven by Rick Kelly and Todd Kelly, finished 14th and 24th respectively.