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
“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
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
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
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
“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