The Nissan Micra Cup - An affordable road race series in Canada
Exclusive to Canada, the Nissan Micra Cup will enter its third season of activities in 2017 and it claims to be the most affordable road course racing series in the country.
The spec series is based on identically prepared Nissan Micras powered by the original 1.6-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder that boasts 109 horsepower at 6,000 rpm.
MIA (Motorsports in Action) in St-Eustache, Québec prepares all Micras competing in the Cup. The interior of the car is stripped and all safety equipment installed, such as the roll cage, the NISMO S Tune suspension kit, the FIA-approved racing seat, the 5-point harness, the fire extinguisher and a modified exhaust.
Presented by JD Motorsport Organization in collaboration with Nissan Canada, the 2017 Micra Cup will be made of 12 rounds held across six weekends in Ontario and Quebec.
How much does it cost to race in this series? We asked the question to Jacques Deshaies, promoter of the series. Folks, please keep in mind that all following numbers are estimations, averages. Some competitors will invest less money than that while others will spend three times more.
A turn-key compact race car
“As of today, a brand new, race ready Micra Cup is sold $23,000 [all prices are in Canadian dollars]“, Deshaies told Motorsport.com.
“We started selling them at $20,000 two years ago, but despite the fact that the cars are built in Mexico, we must purchase them in US dollars. And value the Canadian dollar has dropped during the past year, and that’s why we needed to adjust the price. The safety equipment that is installed inside the car must also be purchased in US dollars. But frankly, $23,000 really is inexpensive. To give you an idea, a race ready MX5 is sold $70,000. The Micra Cup car comes on a set of Pirelli dry tires and with a Micra Cup OMP Nomex driving suit. Obviously, you then need to buy a certified crash helmet, a HANS device, underwear, gloves and shoes.”
Deshaies continued with the series’ registration. “Registration will cost you $8,000 for six meetings of two races each. That includes the entry fees to each event, five passes [four crew members and the driver], and five tickets for the year-end banquet,” he explained.
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The Micra Cup car being no longer a street-legal car, a competitor must purchase a trailer and a truck. “A 24-foot trailer will allow you to carry the race car and all your equipment for track to track. A typical team is made of three to four crewmembers. You can also go racing with just two. Then, there’s transportation and accommodation. Obviously, camping on site will cost you a lot less than booking five-star hotel rooms. It all depends on the amount of money you want to spend.”
You then need tires to go racing. “The 2017 sporting rules restrict each competitor to just four new tires per race weekend,” Deshaies added. “That’s roughly $1,000 per event. However, you don’t have to buy four new tires per weekend. The competitor who purchased the fewest new tires was Olivier Bedard who captured the series’ title in 2015 and was runner-up last year.”
After that, you must add the costs of consumables such as engine oil, gearbox oil, brake fluid, spark plugs, brake pads, filers and all. “I’d say you should change engine oil every race and the transmission oil every two races. You also need about a tank and a half of ordinary fuel for a race weekend.
“You must put some money aside for the crash repairs,” Deshaies continued. "It’s motor racing, and crashes happen… We’re running the basic model Micra, so it’s nothing complicated. Be prepared to have some body maintenance done because of contacts between cars or accidents. However, the car is very reliable. We experienced no mechanical failure during the first two seasons of running. The only engine problems we encountered were the consequences of a driver having over revved his motor during a downshift or because the radiator had been damaged in a contact and lost its cooling fluid. All mechanical woes were the direct consequences of an outside incident.”
For a typical race weekend at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park near Toronto, Deshaies said that the running costs would be around $3,000 ($1,500 for registration, $1,000 for four new tires and $500 for the consumables), plus traveling expenses, accommodation and food.
“One complete season should cost approximately $25,000, maybe $30,000, excluding the purchase of the car. If you race that car for three years, you spread your investment over a long period of time, meaning that it will cost you $8,000 per season. That’s not bad for a fun and reliable little race car running in a highly competitive environment.”
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