Nissan development affected by uncertainty over future

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Nissan development affected by uncertainty over future
Andrew van Leeuwen
By: Andrew van Leeuwen
Dec 12, 2017, 3:10 AM

Nissan Motorsport is at a crossroads with the development of its Altima platform due to the uncertainty facing the carmaker's Supercars future, according to driver/team owner Rick Kelly.

 Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsport
Michael Caruso, Nissan Motorsport
 Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsport
 Simona de Silvestro, Nissan Motorsport
Todd Kelly, Nissan Motorsport
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsport
 Todd Kelly, Nissan Motorsport
 Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsport
 Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsport

The 2017 season was a lean one for the four-car factory-backed outfit; for the first time since the debut season with the Nissan hardware in 2013, not a single Altima driver ended up inside the Top 10 in the points.

There also wasn't single podium for the squad all year, a first since the introduction of the Altima, as Michael Caruso slumped to 13th in the points as the best-placed Altima, one spot ahead of Kelly.

While hoping to make gains in the off-season and improve in 2018, Kelly says the uncertainty surrounding Nissan's future makes a big development push difficult.

The carmaker is yet to commit beyond the end of the 2018 season, with the appointment of Stephen Lester as the new GM in Australia back in September adding to the question marks over Nissan's motorsport-related plans.

"You don't come into the series to run 14th. We're certainly not satisfied with where we are at," Kelly told Motorsport.com.

"We certainly have a job in front of us to turn that around.

"At the same time, it becomes very difficult to change the platform that we've got when the future with Nissan is uncertain beyond the end of next year.

"You can't put in another engine platform overnight, or invest heavily in a mid-to-long term project, when there's not a lot of time left until we need to understand what the future looks like that."

When asked if there had been any movement in the discussions with Nissan and Lester, Kelly said: "Not to the point where we can come out and say that it's looking strong or otherwise."

Kelly added that regardless of results or manufacturer deals, a gruelling phase of pre-Christmas development is off the table anyway given the work load thrown at the crew in the packed back half of the season.

"It's hard to turn around your performance in a short period of time," he said.

"Whether you win the championship or run where we are in the midfield, it tires everyone out. They need a break as well, it's important to send everyone off for a little amount of time and have them come back refreshed for next year.

"You try and do as much development as you can over the break, but the truth of it is you do more in the middle part of the year than you do over Christmas."

 

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