Nissan to end works Supercars programme after 2018 season

Nissan will end its six-year stint as an official Supercars manufacturer at the end of the 2018 season

Nissan to end works Supercars programme after 2018 season

The brand's future has been the subject of speculation for much of the last 12 months - rumours that it could walk away from the series intensifying after the Altima it uses in Supercars was dropped from the local model line-up early last year, before Richard Emery was replaced by Stephen Lester as CEO of Nissan Australia in August.

It has now been confirmed that Nissan will shut down its Supercars involvement at the end of its current contract this year.

That means an end of the factory funding to the four-car Nissan Motorsport outfit, which is run by Todd and Rick Kelly, though the team is set to continue on a private basis.

"Nissan has decided to exit the Supercars Championship in order to concentrate on the interests and needs of our current and future customers," said Lester.

"We have obviously been talking to the Kellys for some time and making the announcement now suits both parties."

The Kellys have confirmed that the V8-powered Altimas, first developed when Nissan came into the championship in 2013, will continue to be run by the team as privateer entries next season.

"It's business as usual for us in 2019 as we continue to race the Altima next year," said Todd Kelly.

"We're extremely proud of the work we've achieved in designing the Altima racecar and a road car-based engine for competition in this category.

"This announcement won't slow our development as we continue to push further up the grid.

"We are very grateful to Nissan for the opportunity and support over these years.

"We've got an extremely capable group of people and one of the best facilities in the country in terms of design and production. The next phase will be an exciting one."

Supercars CEO Sean Seamer thanked Nissan for its support of the series.

"Nissan has been a great partner of Kelly Racing and we thank them for their involvement over the past five years," Seamer said.

"Sponsors priorities change and develop over time. We look forward to welcoming Nissan back at some point in the future."

Nissan joined Supercars back in 2013 as the first manufacturer to take advantage of the Car of the Future regulations.

It tasked Kelly Racing with developing the Altima Supercar, powered by the V8 engine out of a Nissan Patrol.

The car was a winner in its first season too, James Moffat beating Michael Caruso in a historic but controversial one-two at Winton as the cars trialled an E70 race fuel blend.

The initial three-year Nissan deal ended in 2016, the same year Caruso took the brand's second, and so far last, Supercars win at Hidden Valley.

A two-year renewal was signed, but 2017 proved to be Nissan's toughest yet and it failed to take a podium.

Rick Kelly ended that drought at Phillip Island earlier this season with a second and a third.

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