Nissan Motorsport will take away sweet and sour memories from Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin, Northern Territory.
After Rick Kelly scored the best-ever result for Nissan in the manufacturer’s return season yesterday (fifth place), the team continued to display encouraging form, however, more record-breaking results were not collected.
Norton 360 Nissan Altima driver Michael Caruso finished in 11th place in today’s second race – the best result of the team’s four drivers in the two races.
Rick Kelly salvaged a 12th place in the final race after two uncharacteristic poor qualifying performances. Worse, though, for Norton 360’s James Moffat, who was involved in a multi-car incident on the opening lap of the second race. The crash, which Moffat labeled as the biggest of his V8 Supercars career, saw him collect his first ‘DNF’ for the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship.
The next event on the V8 Supercars Championship calendar will be held in North Queensland for the Sucrogen Townsville 400 in three weeks time.
Michael Caruso (#36 Norton 360 Nissan Altima - Championship position: 20th): “This weekend has certainly been more good than bad for me,” said Michael Caruso.
“The 21st finish in the first race today was disappointing, but we had great speed and as we know at Hidden Valley, if you don’t qualify well, it really hurts you trying to come back through the field.
“In the first race, I had good pace on my own, but it’s extremely difficult to pass when you get behind someone.
“In the last race, I kept my nose clean at the start, which was almost impossible given the stuff that we saw go on. The team has some work to do to fix James’s car, but hopefully we can go to Townsville with some more improvements in the car and continue to progress.”
Todd Kelly (#7 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima - Championship position: 26th): “We should have been miles further up the road than all of that agro,” Todd Kelly said.
“I lost a few spots in that safety car period that put me back, but the car was well and truly faster than the guys in front, but we’re just so vulnerable up the straight that I got gobbled up again and moved back even more.
“Where we finished is certainly not representative of what the car could do, so it’s a shame we ended up getting unnecessarily taken out.”
Rick Kelly (#15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima - Championship position: 13th): “The Darwin circuit either treats me very kindly and I’ve got a lot of luck or it’s the exact opposite,” Rick Kelly said.
“Last year was probably the worst race I’ve had in a long time, we had three engines give us a little bit of trouble, but the year before that we got gifted a win a little bit.
“Yesterday was a little bit the same, we got lucky and got fifth, and then today we qualified right up the back and just didn’t manage to get anywhere in that race.
“For the second race, Erik (Pender) made some changes to the car and it was beautiful compared to the first race. We were able to pass a couple of cars, which is fantastic, and if the race was longer we would have kept moving forward.
“It’s great to finish a weekend on a high when we started the day so poorly, so we can take a lot from that, get together as a group, and try and get all four cars in a bunch again and towards the front.”
James Moffat (#360 Norton 360 Nissan Altima - Championship position: 14th): “It’s certainly the biggest hit I’ve had in a V8 Supercar,” said Moffat.
“It caps off our weekend, really. We haven’t been competitive and I feel very sorry for the guys in the team because there’s a lot of damage to the car.
“I didn’t see what was going on in front. At the start of the race, you’re jostling for position anyway, and then all of a sudden the field propped in front of me and I had no where to go.
“There’s a bit of damage to #360, and the boys have a bit more work to do than what they normally would to turn it around for Townsville.
“That’s our first DNF for the season and that was one personal goal that I’d set myself at the start of the year, but that one was out of our control.”