Nissan Motorsport impresses during Friday practice at Hidden Valley

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All four Nissan Altima drivers finished inside the top 10.

Nissan Motorsport has continued its surge to the top of the V8 Supercars Championship with an impressive day of practice at Hidden Valley Raceway for the Skycity Triple Crown in Darwin, Northern Territory.

All four Nissan Altima drivers finished inside the top 10 – the first time that the new factory team has achieved this feat in a session since the Nissan returned to the top-level Australian touring car racing this year.

Michael Caruso, Norton 360 Racing
Michael Caruso, Norton 360 Racing

Photo by: John Maricic

Norton 360 Racing’s Michael Caruso was the standout driver for the team, finishing fifth overall in the ever-improving Altima.

Caruso is a former winner at the Darwin circuit and is hopeful the encouraging speed that he displayed across all four sessions can be converted into race results tomorrow and Sunday.

Jack Daniel’s Altima driver Todd Kelly was one place behind in sixth, while James Moffat (#360 Norton 360 Racing) and Rick Kelly (#15 Jack Daniel’s Racing) were ninth and 10th respectively.

Tomorrow’s track action kicks off with qualifying at 11am local time, followed by a Top 10 Shootout to determine the grid for the 60/60 Super Sprint.

The Skycity Triple Crown will wrap up on Sunday with two qualifying sessions and two races.

Michael Caruso – #36 Norton 360 Nissan Altima: “We tried a lot of things. I don’t think we’ve ever tried this many set-up changes,” said Michael Caruso.

“The conditions in Darwin are very hot, and we tried a lot of things because we’re trying to set the car up for both qualifying and the races. I would have liked more laps on the softs, given that we are going to run them in qualifying and the races on Sunday.

“We have all four Altimas in the top 10, so it’s a great start to the weekend for the team. The boys have been working very hard back at the workshop.”

Todd Kelly – #7 Jack Daniel's Nissan Altima: "It's almost like driving on ice after you've done a few laps, especially on the hard tyre, so you spend most of the day making changes and going back out an battling to keep the car on the track," Todd Kelly said.

"In the middle of the day, I think for the whole field, everyone would have been quite frustrated with their progress.

"Before the last session, we sat down and had a really in depth discussion with my engineer, Perry Kapper, on what we'd learnt from the previous practice sessions and what we needed to do.

"I think we'll learn more tomorrow in qualifying, but it's certainly a positive start."

Rick Kelly – #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Nissan Altima:

"The track was very slippery, which we're quite used to in Darwin, as the surface deteriorates year after year, it gets a little more greasy every time we come up," said Rick Kelly.

"The slippery surface really pushes you to be patient with how you drive the car. You have be gentle on the brakes, gentle on the steering and very patient on the exit of each corner. If you don't you get over steer and wheel spin.

"We went a few different ways with car set-up during the four sessions. We were hampered a bit by a steering issue that we'll fix up overnight, but overall, I thought it was a good day. We've definitely got the car closer to where it needs to be, compared to when we rolled it out of the truck."

James Moffat – #360 Norton 360 Nissan Altima: “Considering we ended inside the top 10, it sounds silly to say that we struggled today,” said James Moffat.

“I’m not very comfortable in the car at the moment, so we’ve got a bit of work to do overnight to get it up to speed.

“Caruso has been speedy all day, no matter what tyre has been on his car. We’ll have a look at what he’s doing and see if we can come up with something that will be more competitive.”

Nissan Motorsport

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About this article
Series V8SUPERCARS
Article type Practice report
Tags caruso, darwin, kelly, moffat, nissan, v8supercars