Two of the four Nissan Motorsport Altimas will compete in a new, sharper look at the Sucrogen Townsville 400 this weekend.
The Norton-backed entries of Michael Caruso and James Moffat will campaign bright yellow Altimas – ensuring that the #36 and #360 cars will be hard to miss around the 2.8km street track.
The new look will remain for the rest of the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship, but in a special one-off initiative, the two-car Norton team will also race under a different name, to be known as the ‘Norton Hornets’ in Townsville.
The name and livery change will be accompanied by 5000 toy antennas that will be given away at the track, as well as the presence of the ‘Norton Hornet’ mascot.
While Norton will have a visual impact at Townsville, the Nissan Motorsport team hopes that its main impact will be on the race track.
The Sucrogen Townsville 400 is the seventh event of the 2013 championship, with Jack Daniel’s Racing’s Rick Kelly the best of the Altima drivers, currently 13th in the championship.
Rick’s season highlight came at the last event of the championship in Darwin where he qualified inside the top 10 and finished fifth – the best result for Nissan in its return season to Australian motorsport.
The entire Nissan Motorsport team is aiming to continue its upward trend this weekend, with the action to kick off with four practice sessions on Friday.
James Moffat – #360 Norton Hornet Nissan Altima
“After the Darwin crash, the car looked sad, but when we got it back to the workshop and it wasn’t as bad as it first looked,” said James Moffat.
“Still, there was more work than they’d usually have, but they’ve done a fantastic job to get the Altima back into A1 condition.
“I’m looking forward to getting to Townsville – it’s another one of those events where the whole town gets behind the race.
“And we’ve got a new look and name for the Townsville event too, which is very exciting. For Norton, the Hornet is all about keeping safe while having fun. We love our V8 Supercar racing and we love to have a bit of fun with it. The Norton team is the perfect vehicle to take our messages promoting online safety to the masses, especially kids.
“The team has embraced the new Hornet character and what better place to celebrate its introduction than Townsville.”
Michael Caruso – #36 Norton Hornet Nissan Altima
“I think the look of our new Norton Hornets are fantastic,” said Michael Caruso.
“We want the whole city of Townsville on board. Almost 5,000 yellow Norton antenna headbands will be given away over the race weekend and we encourage everyone to join the swarm, have fun and stay safe when online.
“Every driver and team member loves going to Townsville. The whole town gets involved, the circuit is cool and the facilities are great.
“We showed good pace in Darwin and we want to continue that.”
Todd Kelly – #7 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima
“I like Townsville as an event. It is one of the best race meetings we go to every year,” Todd Kelly said.
“We’re confident that we’ll be able to move forward at Townsville and continue the solid progress that made so far this year. The track won’t knock us around as much as the long straight did at Darwin.
“The longer race formats will also be interesting too. We haven’t had a fuel race since Clipsal, so this will give us a good indication of the progress we’ve been making.”
Rick Kelly – #15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima
“I’m quite excited about heading back to Townsville. This year’s event offers us a different format with longer races,” said Rick Kelly.
“We’ve got two 200km race with a different fuel tank size. It’s totally different to last year, with one stop expected, rather than two.
“It will be a game of patience to look after your tyres that long and I’m confident that the Altima will continue its upward climb.
“The interesting thing with tyres and format is that you can’t qualify with softs, but you can use them in the shootout. It will make for an exciting strategy game, and the longer formats gives us an opportunity to use strategy to get ahead of the game and make it work better for us than others.”