FIRST PICS: The new era of V8 Supercars has begun with the first Nissan Altima V8 Supercar unveiled this morning in Melbourne.
In a groundbreaking day for the sport, the Kelly-Racing backed Nissan Altima will shatter 20 years of Holden and Ford dominance when the team runs four factory-backed cars in the 2013 V8 Supercars series.
Kelly Racing co-owner and driver Rick Kelly described this morning's announcement as a "game changer".
"This is the first time in 20 years that Nissan is back in this category,'' Kelly said.
"Factory support is the key to teams winning Bathurst and V8 Supercar championships. There's nothing more exciting for a drive than to unveil a car with a brand new chassis that takes it to a new level.''
He promised it would result in the "re-emerging of a rivalry" in the sport.
It is a V8 Supercar in every way, but without the red lion or blue oval badge.
Powered by a 32-valve, quad-cam Nissan VK56DE engine, the Nissan Altima will not be the only new car on the grid next year with an Erebus-Mercedes car to be run out of the Stone Brothers garage.
The Altima will be built to the new Car of the Future regulations laid down by V8 Supercars for the 2013 season, and will also feature the series' first production-based motor since the arrival of Project Blueprint in 2003.
The powerplant set to be used in the V8 Supercar Nissan Altima will be, at its core, the same engine that will power the new Nissan Patrol due to go on sale in Australia early next year, as well as powering various vehicles in the American market.
The Nissan Altima, dubbed the "red devil'' by its makers, will makes its debut in the Clipsal 500 around the streets of Adelaide in February.
Kelly Racing co-owner and overseer of the team’s Nissan Altima project Todd Kelly said the place has been buzzing since they began their bold plan to put a Nissan Altima on the 2013 V8 Supercars grid.
"It has taken 23,000 hours to design and build the car. This is the car I always wanted to build,'' he said.
"In my slightly biased opinion, this is the most impressive V8 Supercar ever produced,'' Kelly said.
"It doesn't matter where you look on this car, you are looking at the highest level of design and detail.
"Bring on 2013.''
V8 Supercars chief executive David Malone said the series will never be the same.
"This marks the beginning of a new era for V8 Supercars,'' Malone said at the unveiling. "It's very exciting for our sport, fans, teams and drivers.
"New manufacturers joining the series will mean heightened competition and new technology racing on circuits around Australia and the world.
"2013 is a revolutionary year for V8 Supercars and the unveiling of the Nissan Altima is just the beginning."
And the manufacturer will undertake two innovative online broadcasts to ensure that fans can be a part of the historic occasion and share Nissan Motorsport’s journey to the grid.
Nissan will host an online conference with Todd Kelly, with the Altima V8 Supercar on show, from the team’s headquarters in Braeside, in Melbourne's south-east at 5pm today.
Kelly will provide an in-depth explanation of the Altima race car at the video conference and offer fans the chance to ask questions about Nissan’s new venture into motor sport.