Nissan Motorsport and Ford teams are prepared to run composite panels on their cars at this weekend’s Coates Hire Melbourne 400 pending final approval from Supercars.
Both manufacturers have submitted proposals to the category’s technical department as they bid to follow Holden’s move of using lightweight composite panels on its new ZB Commodore.
Speedcafe.com understands the panels, including bonnets and roof skins, which will replace the current steel components, have received initial design approval from Supercars and are expected to get the final green light for use at Albert Park.
Holden homologation team Triple Eight elected to use composite panels, due to a lack of availability of OEM parts, when building the latest generation Commodore, which has been perceived as an advantage by Ford and Nissan squads, sparking a parity debate.
The ZB Commodore is understood to be lighter than it rivals but reaches the minimum 1410kg weight limit by using up to 40kgs of ballast, which can be placed low in the car which in turn improves the cars centre of gravity.
Supercars technical department is expected to make the final call before Wednesday evening with track action set to begin on Thursday.
However, Speedcafe.com understands Tickford Racing, Shell V-Power Racing along with Nissan Motorsport are prepared to make changes to their cars for this weekend.
Nissan Motorsport team owner Todd Kelly says his squad has worked tirelessly since Adelaide to create the panels, which he feels will ‘level the playing field’ a bit.
“We have got a lot of unexpected modifications to the car after how things rolled out at Adelaide with the Holden, which our crew has dug deep and done an outstanding job of trying to level the playing field again,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.
“Our cars will be a little bit different to what they were at Adelaide.
“For one reason or another they have had to change from the normal way of building and assembling a car, we have had to now go and do the same thing. We have done as much as that as we can.”
Kelly is unsure what the impact of the parts will be for his team but is confident the Altima is in a much better shape compared to last year.
“The whole category is at the point where we are absolutely splitting hairs, the difference in times is so small. There are no big gains to be had but there are a lot of little gains which will move you up the grid.
“We have had to do a huge amount of little things to try and do that.
“I think we are in a reasonable place for Albert Park and the rest of the year. We’ve reacted to the workload internally extremely well to have done what he have done.
“You really find out the kind of team that you are when you adapt in that situation. The guys have really proven they can make magic happen when it needs to be done.”
If Supercars awards final approval of the changes, ballast will be fitted to the cars in a similar fashion to the Holden ZB Commodore to ensure the minimum weight limit is reached.