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 Nissan Motorsport takes up the challenge at Kyalami

The factory Sasol Nissan 350Zs of former champion Leeroy Poulter and Tschops Sipuka have been in the thick of battle for top honours in Nissan Motorsport’s fourth Bridgestone Production Car Championship this year, but a combination of bad luck, race incidents and some mechanical problems have kept them off the top step of the podium to date.

After five rounds of the 10-round championship, 2006 champion Poulter is in an unfamiliar sixth place in class A with 60 points. Sipuka is seventh, a single point behind his team-mate.

“It’s been a tough first half of the season,” admitted Glyn Hall, general manager of Nissan Motorsport. “We’ve struggled to get the results we’re capable of, despite performing well in practice and in qualifying. The competition is very strong and there is little between the lap times of the top seven or eight drivers.

“Although Leeroy is sixth, the points difference is not so big, so we are not out of the running for the championship by any means,” asserts Hall. “With a reverse grid for race two at each round, the outcome of the day’s racing is not all that straight forward.”

There have been five different winners to date. Eight of the first 10 races have been won by all-wheel drive cars and they have enjoyed a real advantage over the two-wheel drive cars (including the Nissans) on each of the five circuits visited so far.

However, a decision by the championship controllers to allow 18-inch wheels in class A from round six at Kyalami this weekend could see the two-wheel drive cars benefit more than the all-wheel drive versions.

“The bigger wheels, which will give us an extra 45 mm width of Bridgestone rubber on the road, will improve our traction considerably – particularly under acceleration – which is where we have been losing out to the all-wheel drive cars,” said Hall. “Of course, they will improve too, but not by as much as the two-wheel drive cars in my opinion.”

A hard-earned pole position by Poulter in the second round in Cape Town could only be translated into a third place finish (his best result so far) as the all-wheel drive cars made the most of their superior traction and jumped him at the start.

It was the same story for Sipuka, who has shown a new turn of speed this season, after he scored his first pole position for the Sasol Nissan team in the most recent round in East London. In the traditional standing start for the opening race of the day, there was nothing he could do to prevent the Audi quattro of Johan Fourie outdragging him off the line.

While Sipuka tailed Fourie for the first lap and a half, the two crashed into each other as they fought for the lead and the Nissan suffered front suspension damage and was forced to retire.

Sipuka already has two second place finishes to his credit, both scored in the longer second race of the day, which features a rolling start and an inverted grid (where the top eight finishers from race one start in reverse order).

He led race two in the opening round at Kyalami before finally finishing second, challenged for the lead in round two at Killarney in Cape Town and was a fighting second in Port Elizabeth.

“The Nissans were strong at Kyalami in the opening round of the championship in March,” said Hall. “We have improved the cars quite a bit since then so, with the bigger wheels and extra rubber on the road, we can look forward to doing even better this time out,” said Hall.

Nissan Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Nissan Motorsport enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Atlas Copco (pneumatic tools), Bosch Automotive, Champion (spark plugs), Donaldson (air filters), Eibach (springs), Ferodo (brake pads), LUK (clutches), Mastercraft (tools), First Car Rental (formerly National Alamo Car Rental), Pro Engineering, Sasol Oil (fuels and lubricants) and SKF (bearings).

More information on Nissan Motorsport is available at www.nissan.co.za.

  Tough day for Sasol Nissan team at Aldo Scribante >>  
  Sasol Nissan’s Poulter and Sipuka Confident Ahead of Bridgestone Production Car Races in Cape Town >>  
  Poulter third overall for the day at Kyalami>>  
  Nissan Mounts Strong Challenge in Bridgestone Production Car Championship >>  
  Poulter and Sasol Nissan Pipped at the Post in Final Round of Championship >>  
  Nissan’s Poulter in Tight Battle for 2007 Bridgestone Production Car Championship >>  
  Two Second Places Keep Sasol Nissan's Poulter in the Championship Hunt >>  
  Sasol Nissans Looking for Improved Results at High-Speed East London Grand Prix Circuit >>  
  Sasol Nissan 350Zs in the Points at Aldo Scribante Raceway >>  
  Sasol Nissans Geared Up for Tough Challenge at 4WD-Friendly Aldo Scribante Circuit>>  
  Slim Pickings for Sasol Nissan as Audi and Subaru Benefit from Ideal 4WD Conditions>>  
  Fireworks Expected at Zwartkops on Saturday >>  
  Production Car Victory for Nissan in Cape Town >>  
  Bridgestone Production Car Championship Heads South >>  
  Sasol Nissan's Formato Wins Race Two >>  
  Strong Sasol Nissan Lineup for Kyalami Production Car Races >>  
  Sasol Nissan 350Z on the Podium in Race One >>    

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