James Moffat and Todd Kelly were the standout Nissan Motorsport drivers in the final race of the Sucrogen Townsville 400 in North Queensland today.
Moffat and Kelly finished 14th and 15th in the 200km race, with their Nissan team-mates Rick Kelly and Michael Caruso taking 20th and 23rd respectively.
Todd Kelly stopped during the Safety Car period and benefited, only to be passed by Moffat with two laps remaining.
Rick Kelly produced another solid qualifying performance, starting from 12th. His crew elected not to stop under the Safety Car conditions, which ultimately cost him a chance at moving forward.
Michael Caruso was dogged by an incident with Jason Bright at Turn 1 during the opening laps. Bright was issued a drive-through penalty, but it made for a tough afternoon for Caruso.
Caruso was further hampered by a radio communication issue throughout the race that affected his ability to talk to his race engineer. He eventually finished 23rd.
The next event on the V8 Supercars Championship calendar will be held at Queensland Raceway on July 27-28.
James Moffat – #360 Norton Hornets Nissan Altima: “It was a pretty difficult day again, punctuated by another poor qualifying performance,” said James Moffat.
“We need to get a handle on the hard tyre, especially in qualifying conditions. As soon as you start the races in the 20s, you’re on a uphill battle.
“I battled away in the first stint on the hard tyre. The car wasn’t great. I put the soft tyre on and the car came to life, particularly late in the race, but when you’re coming from that far back, it’s difficult to do much.
“We probably missed the strategy, not coming in on that Safety Car. We got swamped on the soft tyres and lost a lot of track position. Of the cars that didn’t take the Safety Car, we might have been the cars that finished the furthest up. Not that it counts for much, but we’ve stayed in the top half of the championship.”
Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel’s Racing Nissan Altima: “It was a frustrating race, I ended up near last a few times after getting caught up with other cars and then I worked my way back through and once we got into a rhythm, especially on the soft tyres, I got a lot of positions back,” Todd Kelly said.
“I had a monumental electronic drama in the car from about half race distance, everything just shut down and then the car leaned the engine out and all the gear changes and all the electronics weren’t working.
“That cost me a huge amount of time and although it came back for a few laps, it went again towards the end, so given all the dramas we had, 15th is not too bad. The car is certainly fast enough to press on.”
Rick Kelly - #15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima: “Qualifying today wasn’t too bad, I think everyone was probably a little bit tired after yesterday’s race and I didn’t feel like I got the most out of the car by a couple of tenths, but even if I gained that I would have only been a few spots further up, so 12th wasn’t too bad,” Rick Kelly said.
“We made a few changes for the race, the car wasn’t quite ideal yesterday and there’s no point us going out again on the same setup, so we tried a few things that we thought would work.
“A couple of the tuning items did and I think we had better pace around turn two and three, but it still wasn’t quite enough.
“Obviously the interesting part of the race was the safety car and differing strategies, and for us we rolled the dice and it just didn’t go our way. We lost a lot of track position and it put us back in the 20s unfortunately.
“We also had a little pace issue, not a big one, but we just weren’t quite as quick as we could have been.”
Michael Caruso – #36 Norton Hornets Nissan Altima: “It was a tough day. Unfortunately, we got turned around by Brighty and that put us behind the eight-ball,” said Michael Caruso.
“It was an uphill battle, so we need to go away and go over things. Obviously, we need a solution to find a way forward.
“It’s disappointing, because I thought we had a decent car on softs, but I never got a chance to show it.”