Nissan ‘haven’t achieved what we wanted’ in Supercars
Nissan executive Ian Moreillon concedes that the manufacturer did not achieve all of its goals in its six years as a factory supporter of a Supercars team.
Nissan Australia announced in May that it would withdraw support from Supercars at the end of the season, leaving the team which had raced on its behalf to revert to Kelly Racing for 2019.
Ironically, Rick Kelly achieved his first race win in a Nissan just four days later at Winton, albeit just the team’s third since Nissan re-entered the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Nissan had been the first manufacturer to recommit to the nation’s premier motor racing series upon the advent of Car of the Future regulations, which saw the Ford-Holden show broken up by four Altimas and three customer Mercedes E63 AMGs on the 2013 grid.
Triumphs for non-traditional manufacturers have still been thin on the ground, although Scott McLaughlin did deliver Volvo six race wins in Garry Rogers Motorsport’s three years representing the Swedish marque.
Moreillon, Nissan’s General Manager, Global Sales & Service Quality, was present at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 for Nissan Motorsport’s last Supercars round and reflected on a mixed record.
“I suppose any era is always sad when it ends, but look, you’ve got to look back on the history and six fantastic years,” he said.
“The reality is that we’ve achieved some great things. Look, we clearly probably haven’t achieved what we wanted to achieve, fully, but at the end of the day, three wins.
“I think we’ve got 13 podiums there (and) 201 top 10 finishes in there, if the numbers are right, so we’ve got to look forward, and certainly it’s been a great association.”
Moreillon also paid tribute to team co-owners Rick and Todd Kelly for flying the flag for Nissan.
“The guys at Kelly Racing, Todd and Rick especially, have been unbelievably strong for our brand and certainly supportive both in business but also on the track on weekends,” he added.
“Yeah, we wanted to do a little bit better but we go out with our heads held high.
“(It is) certainly a challenging sport, we know it’s split by hundredths of a second and it’s something that the guys will continue to try and do better with our Altimas next year, I’m sure.”
Kelly Racing will take its Altima package into a seventh season in 2019, although so far only Rick Kelly and Simona de Silvestro have been locked in as drivers.
The former achieved the squad’s best result as a Nissan team in the drivers’ championship, scooping four podiums on his way to eighth in the standings.
Todd Kelly claimed in the days following Nissan’s exit announcement that Supercars could have done more to help the competitiveness of the Altima, and that the team was only this year moving on from developing its production-based VK56DE engine.
Both Nissan and the team, however, maintain that results were not the reason for the marque leaving.
Local managing director Stephen Lester cited a focus on electrification and a different marketing direction as the motivation.