2013 Nissan Altima
You may be wondering how a front-wheel drive car powered by four-cylinder and V-6 engines will be able to compete in a series called V8 Supercars and dominated by the rear-wheel drive Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore.
The reason is due to the introduction of new ‘Car of the Future’ regulations that make it easier for other manufacturers to enter the series, which may also see Chrysler enter with its own 300-based race car (though it’s not looking likely).
The regulations essentially call for a single ‘control’ chassis, which will be common to all teams. Engines and styling, though, would be unique. Nissan has previously stated that it won’t use a purpose built motorsport V-8 but will rely on a tuned version of one of its production engines, most likely a version of the V-8 engine found in the Infiniti M56.
Fielding the Nissan Altimas in V8 Supercars will be Kelly Racing, which will campaign four separate cars under a factory-backed program. Engineers are currently fine-tuning the aerodynamics of the Altima-bodied race cars and expect to complete their design by the end of the year.
Nissan’s return to the series after a 20-year hiatus is part of the automaker’s marketing efforts for the 2013 Altima, which is entering the Australian market for the first time. The Japanese automaker was famously forced to exit the series back in 1993 when its Skyline GT-R, which at the time was dominating the field, was banned due to a rule change that ended the FIA Group A format in Australian touring car racing.
V8 Supercars expects more manufacturers to follow Nissan's lead given the growing profile of the sport domestically and internationally. The sport intends to grow to 18 events world-wide (up from the present 15 Championship events) across 40 weeks in the coming years, and one leg of the series will even be at Austin’s new Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 track.
R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R race car from 1991Enlarge Photo