Home' V8X Supercar Magazine : Dec 2016 Jan 2017 Issue 96 Contents 58
Although the Altima is a low-volume vehicle, Kelly says
the sport has progressed from being about nameplates to
an overall branding proposition for manufacturers.
The Supercars fan base is currently a strong fit for the
SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) and LCV (Light Commercial
Vehicle) buying demographic, which includes two of Nis-
san’s highest selling vehicles, the Navara and X-Trail.
“It’s funny how people look at these cars and our team,”
“People say ‘the Nissans are here’ or ‘the Nissans are
there’. They don’t refer to it as an Altima. As far as having
a presence and representing the brand, the actual body
shape isn’t as important as what you think in order to
achieve the objectives that they want.
“If it’s a brand like the GT-R, there is more emphasis
on what the car should be doing (performance wise).
This Altima achieves what we want without damaging
Elsewhere, after Garry Rogers Motorsport’s fight to
keep its Volvo on track, the team has begun a detailed
study into what will underpin its next Supercar.
The approach has seen the engineering group,
led by the respected Richard Hollway, identify
what it believes is the perfectly proportioned
body for the Gen2 platform.
While the team is understandably keeping
tight-lipped on the exact identity of the car,
director Barry Rogers says all of its finalists
were four-door sedans.
“The car we’ve earmarked is a small four
door around the size of a BMW 3,” says
Rogers. “We weren’t focused on four doors,
but looking at all the dimensions it is what we
believe is the best solution.
“Once we really looked at it there were about half
a dozen cars that fitted and all of them were small-ish
Although having to play a delicate balance between
keeping the road car’s identity and maximising an aero-
dynamic package for racing with any new body, Rogers
affirms engines are the most critical factor for anyone
trying to lure a new make with Gen2.
“If you can go to a manufacturer that has a GT3 engine
or similar that we can easily adapt, that opens up the
opportunities for introducing new marques without need-
ing factory deals,” he says.
“You might be able to get the engine off the rack and a
few body panels and you’re away. Teams like ours are an
engineering business that can massage body shapes to fit
the chassis. But developing an engine for this category is
a huge stumbling block and costs a lot of money.
“Spending millions for a category showcased to one per
cent of the world car market? We’re kidding ourselves.”
While it appears unlikely there will be many multi-mil-
lion dollar factory deals for teams to be had between now
and 2020, the plan to coax a new brand in with minimum
spend appears to be the way of the future.
Deals that would see a team gain a small financial
incentive alongside the use of a manufacturer’s intellec-
tual property and access to its technology – already race
developed or otherwise – are seen by many as more real-
Brands such as Hyundai and Kia, which would
gain a significant image boost from entering,
are continuing to be named as potential fresh
faces in an era where the barriers to entry
have never been lower.
The dream of attracting premium makes
such as Audi, BMW and Lexus with such
flexibility still appears to be a tough sell,
however, particularly in light of the con-
tinuing rise of GT3 racing internationally
and also within Australia.
Even ignoring the oft-cited demographic
mismatch, attracting investment from manu-
facturers that can already leverage – and make
money out of customer programs – in GT3 may not
prove possible even with Supercars’ Gen2 open-door
While it can be argued the changes allowed under Gen2
should have been part of the Car of the Future plan,
Supercars is doing all it can to make up for lost time.
But as for what the grid will look like in 2020? For now
it remains a case of watch this space.
“THE DREAM OF
MAKES SUCH AS AUDI,
BMW AND LEXUS WITH
SUCH FLEXIBILITY STILL
APPEARS TO BE A
Lexus showed interest
in racing its RC F in
deciding on GT3.
V8X96 p54-58 Year 2020.indd 58
1/12/2016 3:51 pm
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