Nissan Motorsport has continued to make moves towards the front of the V8 Supercars Championship field with a swag of top 20 results.
Four V8 Supercars sessions were held today, with two qualifying sessions and two 100km races giving the Nissan Nismo team plenty of on-track time to build its bank of data in the all-new Nissan Altima V8.
The opening race saw all four Nissans either maintain or better the position they qualified.
Todd Kelly was the best finisher, taking 16th place, ahead of Michael Caruso in 19th, James Moffat 20th (picking up four places from his grid position) and Rick Kelly 23rd.
Moffat's result is pending a stewards enquiry, though, due to a late incident with Dean Fiore in the dying laps of Race 5.
The results see Moffat emerge as the leading Nissan driver in the championship, sitting in 14th place (pending stewards enquiry).
There is little rest for the V8 Supercars Championship teams, with the next event to be held next weekend in the category's return to Pukekohe in New Zealand (April 13-15).
RESULTS AND QUOTES:
James Moffat – #360 Norton 360 Nissan Altima
Qualified Race 4: 24
Result Race 4: 20
Qualified Race 5: 22
Result Race 5: 15 (pending stewards enquiry)
Championship position: 14
"We're happy, because we made minor changes to the car that improved it in both races," said Moffat.
"In the last race, the Altima was probably the best it has been all weekend. I was quite happy with the way it was handling through the corners. We still have a little way to go to get it handle as good in a straight-line, but to get some reasonable points, I'm pretty happy.
"I feel bad for turning around my old team-mate (Dean Fiore) on the front straight after the final Safety Car. It was my mistake and I feel bad for that."
Rick Kelly – #15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima
Qualified Race 4: 25
Result Race 4: 23
Qualified Race 5: 25
Result Race 5: 16
Championship position: 15
“The whole aim coming to Tassie was to try and get through with straight cars ready to go to New Zealand. We knew it was going to be a struggle and we had to just get as many points as we possibly could,” said Rick Kelly.
“To be honest I would have loved to have finished Race 3a and 3b a little bit better and obviously the first one today a little bit better, but the 16th we got in Race 5 was, as bad as it is for us, a really good result.
“The guys did a great job, made a couple of small changes in between the two races that really sharpened the car up, so I think we should all be pretty happy. For the Nissan’s 15th, 16th and 17th is great, but on the Jack Daniel’s side it’s disappointing to see another issue with Todd’s car and not have him up there.
“We’ve got to take a little bit of a positive away from that in that we fixed the car and got it to go round the corners really well, we’ve just go to get it to go up the straights as we know, so onwards and upwards.
“We’ve got a short turnaround now and we’ve got four straight cars to head to New Zealand.”
Michael Caruso – #36 Norton 360 Nissan Altima
Qualified Race 4: 19
Result Race 4: 19
Qualified Race 5: 23
Result Race 5: 17
Championship position: 24th
"It was a tough day, but we knew that we would have a hard time down here," said Caruso.
"This event gave us a great chance to focus on our chassis as we wait for some more horsepower to come, and the team are working really hard back in the factory to make that happen as soon as possible.
"We tried a lot of things. Some good, some bad, and I guess out of that, we're learning a lot with a car that is only three events old.
"When you're running near the back, you say to yourself "I'm glad we haven't got a crashed car" considering some of the stuff that we saw for other drivers. We've come away with four straight cars, and I think the team did a very good job considering the uphill battle we're fighting."
Todd Kelly – #7 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima
Qualified Race 4: 16
Result Race 4: 16
Qualified Race 5: 21
Result Race 5: DNF
Championship position: 28
“The worst car I’ve had all weekend was in the first race today where I ended up 16th. We changed the car for the last race and it was really, really good,” said Todd Kelly.
“I just kept looking at the lap time and thinking, this car feels a lot better than the times I’m doing, even to Rick and Moff I was losing a lot of time up the straights, two or three car lengths to those guys.
“I should have twigged that something wasn’t right, but I just thought that they were getting onto the straights better than me and they were gaping me up the straight, but there was something wrong with the engine from the start and unfortunately it let go and we’ve lost another one.”