Nissan Motorsport could only manage a best result of 11th, despite showing a great turn of speed in the first race of the Armor All Gold Coast 600 today.
Jack Daniel’s Nissan driver Rick Kelly/Karl Reindler finished just outside the top 10 in 11th – but it could have been so much better for the new V8 Supercars manufacturer.
The Norton Nissans looked to have the pace to threaten for a top result, but mechanical failures on both cars ruled them out.
James Moffat and Taz Douglas were on course for a top 10 finish until the #360 Norton Nissan suddenly lost oil pressure with five laps remaining.
The second Jack Daniel’s Altima of Todd Kelly/David Russell had a difficult day, compounded by a poor qualifying result. The pair dragged the car up to a competitive position, only for Russell to be turned around by Alex Premat. The #7 car eventually came home in 17th place.
The day started on a high for Nissan Motorsport, with Rick Kelly and Caruso scoring a berth in the top 10 shootout. The pair would eventually start the race from seventh and ninth respectively.
A 30 minute qualifying session will be held at 10.55am local time tomorrow ahead of the final 300km race at 1.35pm.
Todd Kelly, #7 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima
Race 30 result: 17th
Championship position: 26th
“We only just survived, we kind if limped home with a fair bit of damage on it, so it was good to finish in that respect,” Todd Kelly said.
“The car pace when I was on my own was good, but when we’re around other cars it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to pass here, with where we’re at.
“The key is to try and do a much better job in qualifying tomorrow and stay out of trouble again.”
Rick Kelly, #15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima
Race 30 result: 11th
Championship position: 13th
“We probably had the pace to be about seventh in that race, but 11th with all the chaos is really good, good points for us and it was a very exciting race to watch when I was in the pits,” Rick Kelly said.
“I think the star of the race then was Karl Reindler, he’s not a full time driver this year, but he certainly showed that he’s capable of it by leading the race for a fair while and handing the car over to me in a good position.
“With the safety cars today it put as back a little bit, but all in all there was some good team work and good pace, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
David Russell, #7 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima (co-driver)
“I’m a bit disappointed with today, there was a bit of a bottleneck at the start but the damage to the front of the car didn’t really hamper us too much,” David Russell said.
“In my stint we were in a bit of a holding pattern on good tyres and we just couldn’t make good use of them, and we were actually faster when the tyres were older when we had some clear air, so that was frustrating.
“There is a lot of potential in the car and it’s held up really well over everything today, so we just need to look on to tomorrow.”
Karl Reindler, #15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima (co-driver)
“I’m pretty happy with my stint today, it was always a strategy or option for me to double stint, our pace has been similar throughout the weekend,” Karl Reindler said.
“In clear air the pace was really good and I was happy just managing the tyres as well as I could. Ultimately I don’t think the strategy really worked out for us, that was probably the flaw in our race today.
“We’ll try and improve the car again overnight and if Rick can qualify well again in the morning then we’ll take on board everything we learnt from today.”
James Moffat, #360 Norton Nissan Altima
Race 30 result: DNF
Championship position: 15th
“Yeah, there’s not a great deal to say. We blew up with five laps to go. If we’re going to do that, we’d rather do it five laps into the race,” said James Moffat.
“We’ll change the engine tonight, but we don’t have a spare engine of the same specification. We’re still giving away a lot of time on the straights, but the car was very good.
“It’s very frustrating. It hasn’t been a good endurance series for us, but we have one more race to turn it around tomorrow.”
Michael Caruso, #36 Norton Nissan Altima
Race 30 result: DNF
Championship position: 24th
“I’ve had a few mechanical failures now and I think this one has cost us the most,” said Michael Caruso.
“We had such great car speed, and we were in a position to get a decent result. When you have a good car, get it in the shoot-out, mix it with the leaders, you can’t help but get excited about getting a result.
“With the way our car is at the moment, you need to take those results when they’re there for the taking, but not finishing doesn’t help.”
Taz Douglas, #360 Norton Nissan Altima (co-driver)
“In terms of my stint, the car was good. I felt I had good pace, made a good start and picked a couple off,” said Taz Douglas.
“We had to queue in the first pit stop so that hampered us a bit but I pressed on and picked off a few more. At our next stop, the car stalled and we lost four or five seconds but we were looking good after that.
“Had we not lost all that time, we might have been on for a podium, but it didn’t matter because the engine expired.”
Daniel Gaunt, #36 Norton Nissan Altima (co-driver)
“We were on for a half a result. It’s a real shame,” said Daniel Gaunt.
“Caruso put us in a good position in qualifying and drove a solid first stint. It was hard to tell where we were going to filter out, but I think it would have been somewhere in the top five.
“The good thing about these enduros is that we have another one tomorrow.”