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Path clearing for Nissan V8 Supercars decision

Thursday 21st April, 2016 - 3:28pm

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Michael Caruso's Nissan Altima at Phillip Island

Michael Caruso’s Nissan Altima at Phillip Island

Nissan is edging closer to a decision on its future in V8 Supercars as Nismo’s new global management settles in.

Originally expected last year, clarity on Nissan’s Australian motorsport plans beyond 2016 have been delayed by the recent shake-up of Nismo’s top brass.

Nissan Australia boss Richard Emery says that discussions are now underway to bring Nissan’s new global motorsport director, Michael Carcamo, up to speed on its V8 Supercars efforts.

Carcamo replaced the outspoken Darren Cox, starting with the company on April 1 alongside new Nismo chief executive Takao Katagiri.

A complete decision on the Australian motorsport effort is now scheduled for June at the latest, with elements of the plan likely to be locked down before then.

“The new management structure now has a clear path to take control of some of the decisions about the global motorsport programs, including what we’re doing here,” Emery told Speedcafe.com.

“There are now clearer steps to the decision, but it has put us back, with Mike specifically, bringing him up to speed on V8 Supercars and how it fits in. That’s the work we’re doing at the moment.

“We have a view of how we want our motorsport platform to look over the next three or four years, but it has to fit with the global one.”

While Nismo has investigated introducing its V6 twin-turbo into the category under the proposed Gen2 regulations, Emery has made it clear that such a dramatic change is highly unlikely for 2017.

Emery argues that the lack of take-up from any manufacturer on Gen2 will actually help his discussions with Nismo about continuing in the category.

“It’s getting more and more likely that no one is going to change next year in terms of packaging,” he said.

“That’s probably a good thing in the short term in terms of convincing headquarters because we don’t have to go and spend money on potentially engines or body shells.

“In this sport if anyone else blinks you’ve got to consider how you do that too.

“But if the solution is that we continue on next year, I doubt very much that we would move away from the package that we have out there now.”

Emery however makes it clear that the structure of its involvement in the category, particularly which or how many teams it supports, is “a separate discussion” and not yet solidified.

Kelly Racing has run four Altimas since 2013

Kelly Racing has run four Altimas since 2013

The manufacturer’s V8 Supercars effort has to date been underpinned by Kelly Racing, which runs four Altimas with factory backing.

Emery meanwhile swatted away any concern that electing to stick with the V8 would go against efforts to better integrate the V8 Supercars effort into Nismo’s global activities.

“If you ask any global corporation whether they’d like consistency across the world so that they can invest in one platform and get spread, their answer is going to be yes,” he said.

“But already within the Nissan world there are regional programs that are isolated or different from the global programs of LMP2, LMP3 and GT3.

“Canada have their own little motorsport package involving Micra, we have this. There’s other spots around the world that are off to one side but are still part of the motorsport package.”

Emery is also clear that the delay in clarifying the company’s position on V8 Supercars should not be interpreted as a negative sign for the future of the program.

“I don’t think anyone should take the elongated timeline as a reflection on this is proving to be a hard task or a hard decision,” he said.

“It is simply the way that large corporations work. If there hadn’t been the management change, would we be closer to a decision at this point? Absolutely.

“But I’m not going to panic about it because I want to make sure we make the right decision and have all the stakeholders involved in that decision.”

Volvo is also known to be closing in on confirming its future V8 Supercars plans, with a continuation of its deal with Garry Rogers Motorsport widely expected for some time.

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