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Mar 09, 2018/ 10:10

Nissan not willing to speculate on Supercars future

Nissan not willing to speculate on Supercars future

Nissan is refusing to speculate on the future of its Supercars programme, despite the fact that the final season of its current contract is now underway.

The carmaker is coming to the end of its latest two-year agreement, a deal that was put together by former Managing Director Richard Emery.

Since then Nissan's Australian operation has undergone a major management shift, with Stephen Lester taking over from Emery midway through 2017.

The brand's product line-up has also been realigned away from passenger cars and more towards SUVs, with the Altima sedan that the Supercar is based on discontinued without a direct replacement.

That means if Nissan does want to continue in Supercars beyond the end of the year, which would almost certainly require a new car, the options would be limited to the GT-R or the 370Z.

Factoring in a development timeline for a new car, the clock is ticking for the brand to make a decision on its Supercars future. However new boss Lester doesn't want to be drawn into speculating about what might happen beyond the end of the current season.

"We’re looking forward to the ’18 season and as this year goes on we’ll make some decisions with the team," he said while visiting the Adelaide 500.

"And when we’re ready to tell everybody we’ll come out with a statement on it.

"I’d hate to speculate at this point. We’re going to work very closely with the team on it and when we have the right decision, then we’ll come out with the announcement."

No additional pressure on performance

Nissan Motorsport is coming off the back of a lean 2017 season results-wise, with the four-car team failing to score a single podium or get a driver in the Top 10 of the points for the first time since debuting the Altima back in 2013.

There were promising signs at the 2018 season opener in Adelaide, with Rick Kelly making the Top 10 Shootout on Saturday and new signing Andre Heimgartner doing likewise on Sunday, but Michael Caruso's ninth in the second race was ultimately the best race result.

While acknowledging the Kelly Racing-run team is feeling the pinch in terms of performance, Lester says there's no additional pressure coming from Nissan as the programme hangs in the balance.

"The team puts enough pressure on themselves," he added.

"If these guys didn’t want to show up and win every weekend then we would have realised we were in the wrong business a long time ago.

"There’s no shortage of pressure, but there’s no additional pressure coming. These are professionals who want to win. I’ve been impressed with their resolve to try and do that.

"We can only help and do what we can to support the team."

Downplaying lack of Nismo colours

Lester also downplayed the lack of a full Nismo-backed car in the Nissan Motorsport line-up for the first time since 2015, after the team switched to external backing for Caruso's #23 entry.

"Every year we approach it the same way; we take a look at what we’re going to do and work out with the team the right decision," he said.

"I think the cars look great. We work with the team very closely on the logo exposure and we’re pleased with how they’ve turned out."