Michael Caruso has led an improved Nissan Motorsport charge at Symmons Plains Raceway today.

In the category's debut of the new '60/60 Sprint' format, Norton Nissan driver Caruso gained eight places in a spirited drive at the fast 2.41km track.

Todd Kelly, Jack Daniels Racing
Todd Kelly, Jack Daniels Racing

Photo by: John Maricic

After qualifying 24th, Caruso raced his way up to 18th in the first half of the race before picking up two more places in final 25 laps.

Caruso's Norton team-mate James Moffat also gained positions, making his way from 22nd to 19th. The result maintains his top 15 place in the championship.

On the Jack Daniel's side of the Nissan Motorsport garage, Rick Kelly picked up six places to take 20th, shadowing Moffat across the line.

It was a disappointing day for Todd Kelly, who proved to be the fastest of the Nissan quartet in qualifying and the race, only to succumb to a power steering failure on the warm-up lap of the second half of the race.

Tomorrow's race action will see two qualifying session (10.10am and 10.35am) followed by Races 4 and 5 of the V8 Supercars Campionship (2.05pm and 4.30pm).

Michael Caruso (#36 Norton 360 Nissan Altima / Qualified: 24th / Result: 16th / Championship position: 25th): "We tried to do something a bit tricky in qualifying to gain some straight line speed, but unfortunately, it made us slower so we lost speed down the straight and handling in the corner," said Caruso.

"It's always great to move back through the field, particularly at a circuit like this where we are lacking in some areas.

"The car isn't too bad and we are roping people in towards the end of the race. We have a lot of work to do, and we'll try and do it better tomorrow."

James Moffat (#360 Norton 360 Nissan Altima / Qualified: 22nd / Result: 19th / Championship position: 15th): "We've got to a stage where the car, handling wise, isn't too bad, but there's still a couple of areas that aren't allowing us to realise our full potential," Moffat said.

"The result is a little disappointing, but we collected some good points so we can't be too upset.

"I didn't mind the 60/60 format. It was definitely different.

"The first race was boring, knowing it wasn't for points, but the double file re-start was interesting. I'm not sure what it was like on the outside for the fans."

Rick Kelly (#15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima / Qualified: 26th / Result: 20th / Championship position: 13th): “The new format was quite exciting, there’s a few guys back where we are having a bit of a hustle and tussle and a bit of rough driving going on to be honest, particularly by the Lucas Dumbrell guys,” Rick Kelly said.

“They’re pretty keen on hitting everyone at the hairpin, so it was a good bit of racing and we had a fair bit of contact on the car. The first race wasn’t too good, but the second race we made up a few spots, but obviously far from ideal finishing position for us.

“Regardless, we’ve got to get as many points as we can while the sun doesn’t shine for us in a straight line and I think we managed to do that OK today and a few more spots would have been a good result for us.

“The format itself was exciting, the start is really slow, 50-60km per hour, so when we hold it flat from there, the engine’s so low in first gear that it doesn’t really pick up.

“I was hoping to pass a few cars off the line as was everyone I think and it probably didn’t go that way for us, it probably went the other way, so we can look at it and try and work out how to do it better next time.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow to be honest, we’re going to change a few things overnight, now we’ve got a pretty good understanding of where we’re at and where we need to improve, so a poor result, but good confidence for tomorrow.”

Todd Kelly (#7 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima / Qualified: 20th / Result: DNF / Championship position: 28th): “I was quite enjoying the first sector of that race, the car was really strong under brakes and strong in the corners and I got a pretty good idea of where our weaknesses are around this place, given that’s the first time I’ve been close to another car,” Todd Kelly said.

“I actually got beside a couple of other cars and had a crack at passing them and they just drove off again up the straights, so it’s certainly the straights that are knocking us around and we get the cars around us back in the corners.

“I was looking forward to the second half of that to have a crack at one of these new starts and try and get a few more spots, but as soon as I tried to start the car it wound over funny on the starter motor and then the steering was locked and I lost oil pressure as well.

“I had to shut it down at the end of pit lane and unfortunately watch the rest of the race, so hopefully we don’t have to pull the engine out after not having oil pressure, but I’ll have to get it back and confirm that.”

Nissan Motorsport