Nissan Global Boss Rapt With Clipsal 500

Monday 4 March 2013 12:29
By: V8 Supercars

Nissan’s global motorsport chief has left the Clipsal 500 impressed with both the scale of the event and championship, as well as the V8 Supercar debut of the manufacturer’s new factory Altima V8 Supercars.

Darren Cox, Global Motorsport Director for Nissan, was on-track in Adelaide to take in his first V8 Supercars event.

Cox came to Adelaide from Japan, where last week he confirmed Nissan’s plans to scale up its involvement in the Le Mans 24 Hour from 2014, as well as unveiling this year’s 2013 Super GT line-up as part of a re-launch of the Nismo brand.

“It’s great to see that motorsport is alive and well and kicking in Australia … outside of NASCAR, this is level pegging with DTM as the premier national category in the world. In terms of crowds and people paying to attend, you’re actually ahead of DTM.

“A lot of countries, including my own native country (ED: England), would kill to have a championship like this.”

Cox said that Nissan saw its V8 Supercar entry as a two-fold benefit to its Australian business: a perfect platform to market its brand and a way to showcase the Altima model, which will be on-sale for the first time in Australia in the fourth quarter of 2013.

“Motorsport is one of those ways to change people’s perceptions. OK, we are only racing for the first time here, but this program has been announced now for a year, and already some of those key brand indicators are going up. So already, that’s fantastic.”

Nissan has worked on growing its motorsport platform of late. As well as V8 Supercars, Nissan will compete in categories including Super GT, LMP2, GT3 and GT4 around the world this year, as well as continuing its successful GT Academy program in conjunction with Sony PlayStation, which turns gamers into racing drivers.

“I think I’m on record saying that this year, cost versus value, the best program will be this one (V8 Supercars). Any motorsport budget you put in front of someone, they will always say ‘it’s crazy, it’s mad, it’s big’.

“But in terms what it costs to go racing in Australia versus the value, whether that be the amount of eyeballs that are here, on TV, watching online, reading about it in the media, the value proposition is probably the best across all of our championships.”

Cox was impressed with the fan support in Adelaide, where are sell-out crowd of 95,000 attended on Sunday. Nissan Motorsport reported early merchandise sales results up over 50 percent on the Adelaide event last year when it was Kelly Racing.

“This reaction is equal to what we had at Le Mans and Petit Le Mans last year with Nissan DeltaWing. Walking around in Nissan gear, people are saying ‘hey, it’s great to have you back’. There has not been any negativity.

“It’s great to see Nissan brand, Nismo brand, everywhere. Someone once said ‘you know you have a good brand when someone will wear it to a bar’. It’s great to see so many people wear our brand here this weekend. They genuinely want to wear our brand. We have to say thanks to the fans for that – they genuinely seem to be enjoying our comeback.”

Cox was joined by many business ‘heavy hitters’ in the Nissan camp in Adelaide, joining a Nissan Australia contingent led by William F Peffer, Managing Director and CEO for Nissan Australia, Brown-Forman (Jack Daniel’s) Australian boss Marshall Farrer and Asia-Pacific boss Michael McShane and Norton by Symantec’s Australian head Matthew Drake.

Nissan Motorsport made a solid start to the season in Adelaide, with Rick Kelly and James Moffat 11th and 12th respectively in the championship after the Clipsal 500.

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