V8 Supercars is currently in a race against time to complete a prototype Nissan race car ahead of the Japanese company's entry into the sport in 2013.
V8 Supercars has committed to building a prototype in order to homologate the Nissan, just as it has done for Ford and Holden. Naturally, both Kelly Racing and Nissan are expected to be heavily involved in the development of the yet-to-be-revealed Japanese sedan.
Car of the Future project leader Mark Skaife would not be drawn on details of the Nissan prototype program, but emphasised that it is highly time-critical.
“It'll be built how we decide to build it, and it will be built as soon as it possibly can,” Skaife told Speedcafe.com of the prototype. “We can't afford to have this thing slow the Kelly team in having their other cars ready for 2013. This is game on now.”
Speedcafe.com understands that Pace Innovations, which built the Holden and Ford prototypes, will be responsible for the basic construction of the prototype Nissan, after which point it will be delivered to Kelly Racing for the necessary panel work to be undertaken. It remains unclear whether the car's cage will be constructed at Pace Innovations or Kelly Racing.
Kelly Racing, Nissan and V8 Supercars will work together on the panel design and construction in an area away from the squad's main race team. The car will then undergo the necessary aerodynamic and performance parity testing for its homologation.
According to team co-owner and driver Todd Kelly, it is hoped that the Nissan will be ready to take part in the category's maiden group COTF test at Ipswich on August 6. As previously reported, the post-Coates Hire Ipswich 300 test is expected to be compulsory for Accredited Builders of COTF chassis.
“We obviously need to work very closely with V8 Supercars with the design, especially with the aerodynamic side of it, in order to have the car ‘in the window' and hopefully have a minimal adjustment for them to sign off on the aero kit,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com
“Whether we make the test or not really depends on the homologation process and how much work has to be done from what we present to get the final sign-off on both the engine and the bodywork. There's a huge amount to get done in a very short amount of time.”
CLICK HERE for more about the Nissan engine program
According to Nissan's executive general manager for sales and fleet, Ian Moreillon, the car company will be pushing hard to ensure that the Nissan does run at the Ipswich test.
“If we want to be successful in 2013, we need to have a test car on the track at that time,” Moreillon told Speedcafe.com. “It's as simple as that.”
While Kelly Racing estimates that it is currently three quarters of the way through building its first COTF race car chassis, Kelly says there is “no way” that its car will be ready in time for the Ipswich test, due to the lengthy nature of the homologation process to be undertaken with the prototype.
As with the Holden and Ford COTF prototypes, the Nissan prototype will be owned by V8 Supercars and is not expected to ever be raced.
CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com's previous story on the August 6 COTF test