Tuesday, May 15 01:54pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Nissan confirm Supercars Championship exit

Nissan have confirmed they will end their five-year long partnership with Supercars outfit Kelly Racing.


The Japanese manufacturer confirmed they won’t renew their contract with the Australian team at the end of this year. It follows a tumultuous few years of back-and-forth 'will they, won't they' chat amongst the Supercars paddock. 


“Nissan has decided to exit the Supercars Championship in order to concentrate on the interests and needs of our current and future customers,” Stephen Lester, Nissan Australia’s managing director said.


“We have obviously been talking to the Kellys for some time and making the announcement now suits both parties.


“I’d like to thank Todd and Rick Kelly, Michael Caruso, Simona de Silvestro and everyone at Nissan Motorsport for all of their hard work in the time that Nissan Australia has been involved in Supercars.


“I’d also like to thank Nissan Motorsport fans, we truly appreciate your support and will continue to work hard to achieve the best possible results over the course of the season.”


While Nissan will no longer back the New South Wales-based team, Kelly Racing team owner Todd Kelly confirmed they will run the Nissan Altima platform in 2019.


In the five-year tenure Nissan have had in the championship they've recorded just four victories. One of those came amidst some controversy when the team were allowed to use a different ethanol rated fuel.


Nissan were the first manufacturer to commit to the Car of the Future (COTF) set of regulations in 2012 alongside Ford and Holden. 


While Volvo and Mercedes-Benz have both come and gone, Nissan stayed on. 


Supercars CEO Sean Seamer said he will welcome back Nissan to the championship with open arms should they decide to return.


“Nissan has been a great partner of Kelly Racing and we thank them for their involvement over the past five years,” Seamer said.


“Sponsors’ priorities change and develop over time. We look forward to welcoming Nissan back at some point in the future.


“Supercars continues the growth of fans, attendances, television audiences, digital numbers, cementing our position as one of Australia’s favourite sports.


“Todd, Rick and the team have done a great job in developing the Altima into a package which has been highly competitive with dual podiums at Phillip Island and regular top 10 performances.


“They will carry that form through the rest of this year and we look forward to the Altima lining up against the Ford Mustang and Holden Commodore once again in Adelaide next year.”


The announcement confirms any doubt that the Nissan GT-R platform might join the Supercars grid as part of the Gen2 regulations. Next year Ford will bring the Mustang to the gird. Holden has yet to confirm whether they will race the Chevrolet Camaro in some capacity. 


Photo: Dirk Klynsmith/Nissan Motorsport