Altima now an option for Kelly Racing in 2020
Supercars’ latest bid to achieve parity among models has rendered the Altima an option for Kelly Racing next year with moves to entice a new marque now almost ‘out of the question’.
The Braeside operation has been working to attract a new manufacturer to the sport for 2020 ever since it was confirmed that Nissan would withdraw its factory support at the end of last year.
Team co-owner Todd Kelly was still hopeful of snaring a new marque in February but it appears those prospects are almost over which leaves the outfit contemplating several options.
According to Kelly, one of those is to continue with the ageing Altima, now in its seventh year of racing, after Supercars brought the Ford Mustang and Holden ZB Commodore closer to that car.
The Altima received a boost last week with the series making centre of gravity adjustments to the Mustang and ZB Commodore which has followed an improvement to the Nissan’s aero through changes to the gurney flap and front splitter.
“There’s certainly a lot of positivity happening with any new car entering,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com when asked about the team’s plans for 2020.
“It needs to match the incumbent in every aspect, and that’s really been challenging, but it’s all starting to head in the right direction, as it should be now.
“So that makes it (the Altima) probably more of an option. You know, if you had have asked me at Adelaide with how things rolled out, I’d have gone ‘There’s no way we can run these cars’ (again), because it’s a different category clearly.
“But it’s sort of all coming back to what the REC says and what the intention is now, that no car’s disadvantaged (with respect to parity), so it could be an option.
“There’s plenty of options for next year. A new manufacturer is probably almost out of the question now with the workload, but basically there are a lot of new options to consider.”
While confirming the Altima is an option, Kelly was coy when asked if switching to either a Ford Mustang or Holden ZB Commodore could happen for 2020.
“Potentially,” Kelly replied when asked if the two cars were on the table for next year.
Kelly’s admission arrives following confirmation that his team will represent two new marques as part of a four car assault on TCR Australia which begins next month.
The squad will run two Opel Astras and a pair of Subaru WRX TCR machines in the new two litre production touring car class, a move which could open doors to these manufacturers for other future projects such as Supercars.
However, Kelly says that prospect would depend on what direction Supercars takes with its next set of regulations from 2021.
“It depends what the next five years look like in Supercars, to be honest, to get a little bit further down the track with understanding what are the right cars,” he added.
“We’ve done that massive task before, bringing a manufacturer in (with Nissan), and to be completely honest, it’s a pretty big job to bring an engine in, and a body kit.
“A body kit on its own is okay, but a whole new manufacturer with an engine and a body, you really need a solid five year plan, knowing that you’ve got a long term asset there to use, because it’s expensive to enter.
“We really need to get a bit further down the track with whether we’re going to be more of a Toyota Camry type category, or a Camaro type category for us to make that decision.”
Kelly Racing will return to action today at the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint with Practice 3 set for 1110 AEDT.