Nissan confirms link-up with Rouse
AFTER a year's absence, Nissan will return to the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship in 1996. The long-expected announcement confirms rumours that the manufacturer is linking up with touring car legend Andy Rouse to contest the series with a two-car team of Primera saloons.
Andy Rouse Engineering - dropped by Ford at the end of last season after a three-year association - will enter the cars in association with Nissan Motorsport Europe. Drivers will be 31-year-old Gary Ayles, who returns after several seasons in the Italian Super Touring series, and young Ulsterman Owen McAuley.
"Nissan Motorsports Europe has commissioned ARE Ltd to help develop the Primera into a race-winning car and the Rouse team is confident that this can be achieved by co-operation with Janspeed and the Nissan team racing in Germany and Spain," says the firm. "The early-season cars will be updated 1995 front-wheel-drive cars but the team will have state of the art 1996-spec cars by early May."
It's believed the move will presage a full works return by Nissan in 1996 with the all-new Primera.
Ayles, 31, is a long-time Rouse associate, having partnered Andy in the BTCC with the works Toyota team. He contested the Italian series with Peugeot and last year raced with the Ferrari endurance sports car squad. McAuley, 22, graduates from touring cars from Formula 3. He was the 1994 Formula Vauxhall Champion.
Sponsors will be announced shortly.
-- Best in British Motor Sport Official BTCC website http://www.demon.co.uk/racing