The Nissan contingent is ready to take on the Winton challenge.
Nissan Motorsport is looking forward to returning to its home event at Winton Motor Raceway – the scene of the team’s stunning one-two result last year.
James Moffat and Michael Caruso wrote their names into the history books in August 2013, finishing first and second around the rural Victorian circuit.
It was Moffat’s first V8 Supercars win, Nissan’s first Australian Touring Car Championship race since 1992 and the first-ever non-Ford/Holden win in the V8 Supercars category.
While the Winton win remains Nissan’s one and only V8 victory, the team has shown encouraging signs in recent times, including a podium for Caruso at the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park last month.
The Winton circuit is the home test track for Nissan Motorsport, but due to the busy start of the year, the team is yet to test its 2014-specification Nissan Altima V8 Supercar at the tight and twisty 3.0km circuit.
Regardless, the four-car Nissan Altima team is looking forward to getting back behind the wheels of their cars after a disappointing Symmons Plains event last weekend.
The Winton 400 event will kick off on Friday with three 20 minute practice sessions. Saturday will feature two 100km races, followed by one 200km race on Sunday.
James Moffat, #360 Norton Nissan Altima
“It’s going to be nice heading back to Winton. It’s our home test track, so it’s a circuit that we know very well, but we actually haven’t tested there since the week before last year’s event,” said James Moffat.
“We haven’t been there with our car and its new aero package, so there’s a bit of a question mark.
“But apart from Symmons Plains, the signs of the new package have been encouraging.
“We need to bounce back from Tasmania, so as a team, we need to put together a strong weekend.
“From the driver’s seat, our car doesn’t feel dramatically different to drive, compared to last year, so hopefully that means we haven’t lost any speed.
Michael Caruso, #36 Norton Nissan Altima
“We’ll find it a bit harder than what we did last year, but I only say that because everyone if one more year into their development and the speed of all the cars has improved significantly,” said Michael Caruso.
“It’s hard to know where we’ll stand. I think we’ll have a much better idea of where everyone is on Friday afternoon. That’s where we’ll really know how good our chances are.
“For the team, our aim is to go there and do what we did last year, but personally, I want to go there and pick up another spot and take my first win for Nissan.
“I’ve come close to a win a few times at Winton, but now I really want to get one to call my own.
“I’d be happy if we came out of Winton with some top 10 results. Ultimately, you want to win, and last weekend at Tasmania showed we still have a way to come to be competitive week in, week out. That’s what makes Winton and the next couple of events very important for us to come away with a good bundle of points.”
Rick Kelly, #15 Jack Daniel's Nissan Altima
"The Norton Hornets did a great job at Winton last year, it was Nissan's first ever V8 Supercar win, a double podium, and almost a pole position there as well," said Rick Kelly.
"They had very good car pace when you compare it places like Symmons Plains, Winton is a definitely a stronger track for us.
"Last year we had a test day in the lead up to the race, and in the 15 car we had an exceptional day, so in true Winton tradition it didn't work for us at the race meeting.
"I don't think it's a bad thing that we are turning up to that track without a test day there (so far this year).
"We've learned a lot of things with the car since last year, and I'm looking forward to how it handles since we haven't been there for a while."
Todd Kelly, #7 Jack Daniel's Nissan Altima
"Winton's our home test track that we haven't tested at so far this season, it's been a little while since we were last there, but obviously it has been our most successful venue last year," said Todd Kelly.
"We've made improvements with certain areas of the car since that point last year, so we're hoping we can have a good weekend again. "It's a little bit different to a few tracks that we've been on this year, straight line speed is not as big an issue as what it is at a lot of other tracks.
"If we get the cars right, get them to stop well, turn well, and exit the corners well, and tune the cars for the conditions on the day, we can look forward to a successful weekend."