Team(s): Nissan Nismo / carsales Racing / Sengled Racing / Team Harvey Norman
Team Principal: Todd Kelly; Rick Kelly
Chassis: Nissan Altima
Drivers Championships: –
After a 20-year exile from the series, Nissan returned to V8 Supercars in 2013. Formerly Kelly Racing, the team was rebranded Nissan Motorsport Australia at the completion of the 2012 season, campaigning four factory Nissan Altima V8 Supercars in 2013, headed by Rick and Todd Kelly.
Born out of Perkins Engineering at the beginning of 2009, when the Kelly brothers broke their 12-year tie with Walkinshaw Racing to setup their own team, Kelly Racing’s switch from running Holden Commodores to becoming the factory Nissan team, marked the first time that the brothers had sat in anything other than a Holden in their V8 Supercar careers. After leasing two Racing Entitlement Contracts (RECs) from Larry Perkins, Kelly Racing now own all four RECs after Perkins sold both to the Kelly family in January 2013.
In what the Championship newcomer classed as a development season, the Nissan team put itself on the map claiming its first race win, albeit in controversial circumstances. V8 Supercars’ decision to test experimental fuel in Saturday’s opening race of the Winton 360 allowed James Moffat and Michael Caruso’s cars to run on a different fuel to most of the field – a reduced fuel blend of the E85 ethanol to help improve the Altima’s fuel economy which had struggled to match the fuel consumption of the heavily developed Holden and Ford race engines. The two Nissans finished one-two. Despite V8 Supercars stressing that analysis of its track and dyno testing of the alternate fuel proved that it provided no performance advantage, officials decided against using the E70 fuel blend to solve the parity debate. However, permission to re-homologate the aero kit (which included an end-plate mounted rear wing) and bring in a revised engine package was granted.
In its second year of competition, Nissan Motorsport retained the same driver line-up, but found themselves relegated to the mid pack. Still suffering from being down on power compared to the rest of the pack, Caruso finished the highest placed of the four drivers in tenth. However, it was at Bathurst that the team scored its best result with Moffat and co-driver Taz Douglas finishing second despite ending up in the wall twice.
During the off season Nissan Motorsport refined the aero package on the Altima in the quest to find the straight-line top speed, its third different iteration in as many years. After early promises at the pre-season test, 2015 was a mixed bag for Nissan, Rick Kelly being the undeniable standout driver for the team.
Following three seasons of homologation, the team entered the 2016 season without a major aero package change, focusing instead on engine and chassis development. It was also the first time Nissan Motorsport had a change in its driver line-up, with Dale Wood joining Rick Kelly, Todd Kelly and Michael Caruso in the four-car line-up.
Through consistency in the first three races of the season, Caruso left Adelaide as the points leader. While he was unable to keep this up throughout the year, he became the first Nissan driver since Moffat in 2013 to win a race, running away with a win in Darwin. The rest of the team was unable to show the same pace throughout the year with Wood fighting at the back and the Kelly brothers in the sharp end of the mid-pack. For Bathurst, the team took on the Harvey Norman Supergirls entry of Simona de Silvestro and Renee Gracie, running their car for the endurance classic.
The 2017 season will see the Kelly brothers stay driving at their own team, Caruso staying on in the Nismo car and Simona de Silvestro becoming the first full-time female driver in the Supercars era, joining under a multi-year deal with Supercars.