Nissan concedes defeat in Kelly Bathurst bid
Nissan has officially abandoned plans to have its star driver Rick Kelly take part in the Bathurst 12 Hour next February following its latest ‘robust discussions’ with V8 Supercars.
Nissan CEO Richard Emery has confirmed that Kelly will participate in the entire two-day V8 Supercars pre-season test at Sydney Motorsport Park, which clashes with the February 7-8 Bathurst race.
Speedcafe.com understands that Nissan had devised a plan to have Kelly undertake the majority of the test and related V8 Supercars television commitments while still competing at Bathurst.
The schedule would have seen Kelly drive the first and last two-hour stints at Bathurst aboard the GT-R; between which he would commute to SMP via helicopter to fulfil duties for V8 Supercars.
V8 Supercars and its CEO James Warburton have, however, held firm on their position during the latest meetings with Nissan this week that the entire two-day test is compulsory for all primary drivers.
“In recent months Nissan has investigated options that would allow Rick Kelly to participate in both the V8 SuperTest and Bathurst 12 Hour in February 2015,” said Emery in a statement.
“We’ve had ongoing robust discussions with James Warburton and the team at V8 Supercars. Only this week, we again met and discussed how we might be able to get Rick to complete his obligations at both events. To their credit they listened and considered the possibilities.
“We have tried our best to negotiate a solution and stand up for the NISMO Global Driver Exchange program, which saw Alex Buncombe do such a great job for us during the Pirtek Endurance Cup in the #7 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima V8 Supercar and would have seen Rick again compete at the Bathurst 12 Hour in the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
“It is clear that under the current format for both events such an endeavour would compromise both our Bathurst 12 Hour program and our preparations for the 2015 V8 Supercar season.
“As such we have now informed NISMO that unfortunately Rick will be unable to participate in the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour.”
It now appears likely that Nissan will run an all-international line-up at Bathurst, which last year saw Briton Alex Buncombe, Belgian Wolfgang Reip and Japan’s Katsumasa Chiyo share the entry with Kelly.