Always Evolving Planning PWC Return Despite Nissan Uncertainty

Photo: Always Evolving

Photo: Always Evolving

Always Evolving has reaffirmed plans of returning to Pirelli World Challenge next year, despite uncertainty surrounding the level of Nissan’s factory involvement in North American sports car racing.

The two-car Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 effort, operated by AIM Autosport, will continue, according to team manager Ian Willis, although exact details on the program have yet to be defined.

“We have some stuff in the works. We’re expecting to make some announcements, hopefully before the New Year, but they may be pushed back,” Willis told Sportscar365.

“Like a lot of Japanese companies, their corporate year starts April 1, so a lot of the budget decisions don’t match up with the racing schedule, which makes it pretty tentative for all of us, more tentative than normal in this industry.

“I honestly don’t know everything yet as I don’t think all the final decisions have been made.”

Nissan, which has provided factory support to the Always Evolving/AIM squad for the past two years, is understood to be re-evaluating its U.S.-based motorsports programs for next year, except for its new customer engine supply in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which is believed to be largely funded by Tequila Patron ESM.

When reached by Sportscar365, Rick Kulach, Nissan North America’s Motorsports Manager, said they will remain involved in PWC next year, but with details to still be worked out.

“Final details are still pending but [we] will be supporting customer-based racing just like the last two years,” Kulach told Sportscar365.

With two new GT-R NISMO GT3s currently in build in the UK, Willis said their PWC program would still go ahead, even if the manufacturer funding was reduced or eliminated.

“Hypothetically, if there’s no involvement from Nissan USA, it just becomes a customer program,” he said. “We certainly have looked at all options and are prepared for any and all options. We’re working on a lot of stuff… But we have to wait and see what’s announced.”

The team fielded James Davison and Nissan GT Academy USA winner Bryan Heitkotter this year, and evaluated JRM development driver Craig Dolby at the Utah round while Davison was serving a one-race suspension. 

Plans were initially in place for a three-car effort for next year, prior to the latest development from Nissan.

Willis said there’s a number of options currently on the table for next year, especially with the integration of SprintX into the overall championship, which would require additional drivers for five of the ten weekends.

“What that will look like driver-wise and sponsor-wise, those are the questions that need to be answered,” he said.

The team expects to take delivery of its two new GT-R NISMO GT3s next month, with selected crew likely to support Wall Racing’s effort in February’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour with Always Evolving’s 2015-16 cars.

7 Comments

  1. NASCAR/DPs Suck

    December 20, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Nissan has got to be one of the most frustrating brands with regards to their racing programs. Late committals, half committals, crap budgets. Either do it right or don’t do it at all.

    • Troy Grande

      December 20, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. Nissan has been a joke in the US for some time. They never committed to the GT Academy program and even when the winners ran in a series it was only for a few races never a full season. Bryan was the only winner to run a full season in any series. They pulled out of IMSA and now they are pulling out of PWC. When Rick Kulach says Nissan will be in PWC in 2017 he means they will provide contingency money to competitors, no factory program. How can one of Nissan’s largest markets not have a factory racing program? How does Australia who sold only 5,200 units in September have two factory backed programs, V8 SuperCar & Liqui Moly while the US sold 113,500 units in October have no factory backed program? I guess blowing close to $50 million on the super bowl ad and the failed LMP1 program they decided they had enough of racing in the US. They would rather blow their marketing budget on Star Wars commercials selling Rouge’s. It seems that Nissan doesn’t have anyone in their US office that is a car guy or gal, it’s sad.

  2. Matt

    December 20, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    The humiliation of Nissan continues.

  3. Edgar

    December 20, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I sure hope that they continue in PWC in 2017. This is my favorite team in PWC but it’s frustrating to see Nissan’s half hearted efforts in sportscar racing. The Doran 370Zs were front runners and crowd favorites in CTSC but Nissan stopped supporting them there and even the ESM DPis only have partial Nissan support. I’m sure Nissan could have fully funded all those programs for full seasons with what they spent on the Nismo LMP1 publicity stunt.

    • Matt

      December 20, 2016 at 9:27 pm

      Nissan always acts like they’re broke which is definitely not true.

  4. euronese

    January 1, 2017 at 4:15 am

    When they in front of we,we crying;
    When we playing dirty trick for in front of they,we crying!

    WSBK no japanese round & almost all leaveing from CART to IRL …,
    when?why?
    Overdirty!

  5. JM

    January 4, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Nissan’s parent is Renault, and for the reason behind Nissan’s factory support disappearance from most non-JP sport car racing venues, and almost entirely in the US, we really should look at Renault’s re-entrance into F1 last year.

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