Nissan Motorsport has turned its attention to the next event of the V8 Supercars Championship at Winton Raceway next week after a tough day at Symmons Plains today.
All four Nissan drivers were not in the hunt at the Tasmanian circuit, with the best finishers just inside the top 20.
Norton Nissan driver Michael Caruso started the day on a high, qualifying a promising 12th place, but the 30-year-old was not capable of running with the leaders and slipped back. He eventually finished 19th – the best of the four-car Nissan Motorsport team.
Jack Daniel’s-backed Rick Kelly finished in 20th place, just ahead of his team-mate and brother Todd Kelly.
In the championship standings, Rick Kelly sits as the highest Nissan Motorsport driver in 11th place overall.
The V8 Supercars Championship kicks back into life next weekend for the Winton 400 at Winton Motor Raceway, Victoria.
At Winton last year, Moffat wrote his name in the history books by taking Nissan’s first victory in the V8 Supercars Championship. Despite the team’s struggles at Symmons Plains this weekend, the team is confident of an improved showing at its home test track.
Michael Caruso, #36 Norton Nissan Altima
“Today started off quite good. I put together the best qualifying lap I’ve ever done around here. I thought it was a ripper,” said Michael Caruso.
“Considering the package we have, I was confident starting in 12th place. I thought we’d move forward, but we didn’t, and it’s quite embarrassing.
“The performance of all four cars was no acceptable. We got our pants kicked and it’s important that we get to work straight away and have a serious look at ourselves.”
Rick Kelly, #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Nissan Altima
“It was a tough day in the office, it was just a tough weekend,” said Rick Kelly.
“We had very bad luck yesterday with the brake failure and getting helped off the track, it’s all part of life.
“We really wanted to come out today and capitalise on the longer race, we like longer races with the strategy and pit stops, there’s plenty of time to race to a good result.
“The guys did a great job with the stops, but unfortunately we just didn’t have the pace.
“We haven’t quite got the straight line speed we need, but we didn’t have the setup here.
“We go to tracks as a team where we are extremely strong, and we go to tracks where we are weaker, I think a lot of that is down to the new generation car.
“It’s good to get this one out of the way early in the season, it’s a bad track for us, and now we head to the best track for us at Winton.
“We’ll have a look at what we need to do for next year at Symmons Plains, but we are definitely excited for the tracks coming up after Winton where we will be strong at.”
Todd Kelly, #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Nissan Altima
“We need to go and have a good hard look at ourselves after this weekend, the performance we had was pretty clear, with all four cars finishing nose to tail,” said Todd Kelly.
“We just didn’t have the pace, and a lot of work needs to be done.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do before Winton, it’s going to be a busy few days.”
James Moffat, #360 Norton Nissan Altima “It was a pretty frustrating day for myself and all of Nissan Motorsport today,” said James Moffat.
“It was a long 84 laps and I think it was pretty obvious to everybody that we had no speed.
“The biggest thing for me is that I was struggling to match it with my team-mates, but we were all struggling to be anywhere near the rest of the field.
“It’s not a good situation to be in and hopefully we can improve.
“It’s extremely disappointing after a reasonably solid start to the season at Adelaide.
“We’ll be pushing hard at Winton next week, because there’s no way we want to have a race meeting like this again.”