The Phillip Island circuit is one of Rick Kelly’s favourites, and as he writes in this week’s exclusive column, he can’t wait to get back there this weekend.
As we covered prior to the New Zealand event, some drivers are simply in synch with a circuit, such as Greg Murphy at Pukekohe.
Even within our own squad, you look at James Moffat who turns up to places like Bathurst or the Gold Coast, and he is right in his element.
Michael Caruso has tracks he performs very well at consistently, as does my brother Todd.
For me, Phillip Island is one of those tracks where I find it’s a special place for me. And I guess subconsciously you attack it that little bit differently.
Like always it depends on the weekend you’re having and the package you have with the car, but personally it has a different feel. It’s so fast and flowing, and behind Bathurst it’s my favourite stop on the calendar.
We’ve competed in a lot of races there, we’ve had podiums, a pole position, and we ran some 500-kilometre long endurance races with some success there before it moved back to Sandown.
I can’t really pinpoint why it’s so special. We’ve managed to register some solid finishes for Nissan there in the past two years, but because the competition is just so tight, you can never ever take a result for granted.
Obviously we’re getting to the crunch time of the year points-wise. If we finish on a strong note, we could achieve anything up to a seventh place result in the final standings, but if we drop the ball we could potentially fall to 15th.
Weather always plays a part at the Island, it should be fine over the weekend, but track temperature has an influence over lap times. Because of the big long corners, you’ve got to have a well-balanced car so you can keep the tyres going strong for a full race distance.
Welcome Back Dale
It’s been an exciting time here in the Nissan Motorsport camp this week with the announcement of Dale Wood joining us for season 2016.
Selecting a new driver is something that takes a lot of time and effort; it’s never an easy task. You need to be able to find someone who fits in with our team environment, and I know that Dale will slot in perfectly.
We know that Dale hasn’t reached his potential in the past, but it’s our task to help him unlock the speed he has shown. In the last two years he has scored a podium in the main game and qualified third at Bathurst, while he is also a previous winner of the Development Series. So the potential is definitely there.
Back in 2012 we signed on Moff who was in a very similar situation to where Dale currently is.
We knew that Moff was more than capable of delivering given the right opportunities, so it’s been great to see him score a win, a pole and a Bathurst podium. Given both Moff and Dale came to us in their third full time season, they both joined the team with an existing understanding of how the championship works.
Of course being capable behind the wheel is a key skill in being a successful V8 Supercar driver, but there are many other aspects that are also very important.
This includes the ability to work in a team environment, being an asset to our business partners, as well as presenting well in front of the media, to mention just a few, and we feel these are all areas where Dale will be a benefit to the team.
We’re obviously familiar with Dale as he drove with us in our first year in 2009, as well as with Todd in Jack Daniel’s colours in the 2010 enduros. I’m really looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store for us.