Nissan long-awaited return to international sports-car racing is edging closer with the news that a race version of its GT-R supercar is up and running.
The Japanese manufacturer, whose last major sports-car program outside of the Japan-based Super GT series came at Le Mans in 1999, shook down a GT-R test vehicle before Christmas. The car, built by Nissan's NISMO competition department, completed a five-day test last week at Malaysia's Sepang circuit.
Nissan has long been rumored to be evaluating new international GT1 racing rules that come into force in 2010, but the official company line is that the car has not been designed to a specific set of regulations.
"It is a test car. We are not claiming there is a specific category we are looking at, although this car has not been developed for Super GT," said
Manaki Iwamoto, NISMO general manager of corporate planning. "Since the launch of the GT-R one and a half years ago, we have been looking at opportunities to race the car."
Speculation suggests that Nissan will confirm its entry into the forthcoming GT1 World Championship when the series is launched, most likely in March. Asked when Nissan might announce any plans for the GT-R, Iwamoto replied that "it is very difficult to answer that question in the current financial climate."
Nismo's first GT-R racer was shaken down by Nissan Super GT regular Michael Krumm at Fuji in Japan in late December. Aston Martin Racing regular Darren Turner joined up with Nissan for the Sepang test.