The Nissan Motorsport quartet collected valuable V8 Supercars Championship points in the opening race of the Sucrogen Townsville 400 today.
Moffat, Todd Kelly and Caruso finished 15th, 16th and 18th respectively.
Rick Kelly proved to be the stand-out, qualifying 11th and racing inside the top 10 for the best part of the first stint.
Due to the Nissan Altima’s thirstier fuel consumption, the cars spent longer in pit lane during the fuel stop to top up the tank, with Rick dropping to 15th place.
In a spirited fight back, he eventually finished 12th, maintaining his 13th place in the championship.
It was a fairy mundane race for Todd Kelly and Moffat, while Caruso was forced to complete close to 60 laps of the race with a failed cool suit, making for a hot afternoon in the North Queensland heat.
Action continues at the Townsville street circuit tomorrow, with a 20 minute qualifying session at 12.45pm, followed by Race 21 of the V8 Supercars Championship at 3.35pm.
Rick Kelly - #15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima:
Race 20 qualifying: 11th
Race 20 result: 12th
Championship position: 13th
“We got a reasonable start, we were in 11th and I got a couple of guys in the first two or three laps, which was good fun. I got underneath them at turn 10 or 11, so that was a bit of fun, but they got me back a bit later in the race because we hurt our rear tyres a little too quickly,” Rick Kelly said.
“We pitted a few laps later than everyone just because of the fuel usage we had, and we spent a little bit too long in the pits getting fuel with our economy and it just put us back a little bit.
“We worked hard all day and started 11th and finished 12th, so a little bit frustrated with that, but at the end of the day we qualified well and we can improve on that tomorrow and sharpen the car up a bit and driver a bit nicer, we’ve got a good shot of getting ourselves into the 10. Solid day; not great, but solid.”
James Moffat – #360 Norton Hornets Nissan Altima
Race 20 qualifying: 24th
Race 20 result: 15th
Championship position: 15th
“From where we started in 24th, the first thing that we had to do was get through Turns 1 and 3 which are traditionally the areas where there are dramas,” said James Moffat.
“From where we were, there looked like there was a bit of carnage, but we positioned ourselves in the right spot, so we were fortunate there.
“It was just a matter of trying to look after the tyres and drive to a certain fuel number, because we knew we were going to have to spend more time in pit lane because we’re using more fuel than the rest of the field.
“We battled a bit on the hard tyre, but we were as quick as anyone around us. We lost some track position with some jostling against others.
“The car was encouraging against others, especially on the soft tyre at the end of the race, but we were coming from too far back.”
Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel’s Racing Nissan Altima:
Race 20 qualifying: 23rd
Race 20 result: 16th
Championship position: 25th
“It was a pretty tough race without any safety cars and battling away at the back you have your usual issues, bent wheels and tyre marks down the side and bent steering to try and deal with, but the car was really good on soft tyres,” Todd Kelly said.
“Once we got on to those tyres we made up a fair bit of ground, but the pit stop and the extra fuel we had to put in the cars put us back a bit, so the pace is actually a lot better than what the results showed.
“We’ll see how much more we can lean the engines off tomorrow, but we don’t want to lose too much more power than we’ve got at the moment, so we’ll see what we can do overnight.”
Michael Caruso – #36 Norton Hornets Nissan Altima
Race 20 qualifying: 26th
Race 20 result: 18th
Championship position: 19th
“It’s an unfortunate result, to be honest. We had a good start to the race, but 10 laps in, I had a cool suit/helmet fan disaster, and it’s very difficult to get around the circuit at the optimum without that working properly,” said Michael Caruso.
“Obviously, we need to find a little bit more speed in the car. We’ll have a look at how the other three Nissans went, and hopefully we’ll find some way to address the fuel fill delay we’re having during the pit stops.
“We’ll move forward, but we need to focus on qualifying for tomorrow morning. That will probably be the biggest thing in getting a good result for tomorrow.”