Nissan 'never entertained' bringing GT-R to Supercars
Nissan says it never seriously considered bringing the famous GT-R bodyshape into Supercars during the decision-making process regarding its future in the series.
Nissan is set to walk away from Supercars at the end of this year, shutting down the factory support of the four-car programme that developed first developed the Altima and then ran it for the last six seasons.
The Altimas will continue to be run as privateer entries by Kelly Racing next season, with their future from 2020 onwards currently unclear.
The decision from Nissan to pull out of Supercars comes during a period of realignment for the brand in Australia, with sedans like the Altima now out of the local line-up, and the focus more heavily on SUVs as well as sportscars like the 370Z and the GT-R.
That realignment had led to hopes that Nissan might embrace the Gen2 Supercars regulations and bring the GT-R to Supercars, particularly with Ford getting the two-door ball rolling with the upcoming introduction of the Mustang.
It would have also been a neat fit from a PR perspective, with the GT-R an iconic car in Australian Touring Car Championship history thanks to its dominant run in the early 1990s during the Group A era.
While it's understood that both Nissan Australia and the Kelly Racing outfit investigated both the GT-R bodyshape and turbo engine packages as early as 2015 during the previous round of negotiations over a new deal, it seems that this time around the GT-R didn't even get a look in.
When asked if there was any serious discussion regarding the GT-R while assessing options beyond 2018, Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester was emphatic in his response.
"No there was not," he said.
"It was never a point that we were entertaining on the table from our side. To be very honest, I don’t see the alignment of the GT-R to the Supercars series.
"At this point we’ve made no plans to consider other vehicles for racing in Supercars. We have aligned our strategy to focus around EV, SUV, and Nissan Intelligent Mobility, and that strategy will form our future course."
What is less clear is the future of the GT3-spec GT-R in Australia.
Nissan Australia has two of the GT3 cars in its local fleet, first purchased to ensure the brand could run cars at the Bathurst 12 Hour each year.
There were even plans to run a car for GT Academy winner Matt Simmons in Australian GT in 2017, although the programme never properly went ahead.
The cars were then absent from this year's running of the 12 Hour in February.
That could be about to change, however, with Lester cagey on the plans for the existing GT-Rs.
"The reality is that Supercars is a terrific local series, but it is not the only series in the country," he said.
"Motorsport has always been a part of the history and DNA of the Nissan brand, and we will entertain and look at other commercially-viable opportunities that meet the needs of the brand, of our customers going forward.
"It doesn’t mean that definitively," he added when asked if the GT-Rs would be run at either the 12 Hour or in Australian GT.
"We will look at all opportunities to go racing and evaluate those on a case-by-case scenario.
"No specific timeline has been set, but obviously time’s ticking. We’ve got people within the organisation looking at the opportunities around that. Fortunately, we do have those couple of cars, or the assets, so it’s not a question of being that far off. It’s just a matter of having the right format and set-up to be able to do it."