Nissan Motorsport has endured a frustrating day at Symmons Plains Raceway in Tasmania today.
Norton driver James Moffat completed the day with the best results (18th and 13th), but it was a case of what could have been for his Jack Daniel’s Nissan team-mates Todd and Rick Kelly.
Todd Kelly failed to finish Race 4 with a broken front right upright and was placed as high as fifth in Race 5, only to serve a drive-through penalty for a restart infringement.
Norton Nissan star Michael Caruso, a podium finisher at the Grand Prix two weeks ago, rued two difficult qualifying sessions that saw him start towards the rear of the field. He took 21st in Race 4 and battled through Race 5 with significant front and rear damage to his Altima to come home in 16th place.
The final race at Symmons Plains will be held tomorrow over 200km.
James Moffat, #360 Norton Nissan Altima
Race 4 Qualifying: 17th
Race 4 Result: 18th
Race 5 Qualifying: 18th
Race 5 Result: 13th
“The points is the biggest positive we can take out of the day,” said James Moffat.
“Qualifying was less than ideal, and it really doesn’t feel like we’re racing out there. We’re only competing. We haven’t got what we need to fight.
“This track is all about straight line speed, and right now, we’re hurting compared to our rivals.
“That second race was wild and we picked up a couple of spots. We don’t have the car speed to finish 13th, that’s for sure, but I’ll take it and we’ll move onto tomorrow.”
Michael Caruso, #36 Norton Nissan Altima
Race 4 Qualifying: 23rd
Race 4 Result: 21st
Race 5 Qualifying: 20th
Race 5 Result: 16th
“It all starts with weak qualifying. When you qualify down the back with the cowboys, you definitely find in the race you’re amongst it,” said Michael Caruso.
“Our car just got totaled on the first lap, and you end up just trying to salvage something in the race.
“It’s hard with the straight line package we have. It’s encouraging to see James rack up some good points, considering where our package is for Tasmania.
“If we can limit the damage tomorrow and bag some more points, we’ll be as happy as we can be.”
Todd Kelly, #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Nissan Altima
Race 4 Qualifying: 19th
Race 4 Result: DNF
Race 5 Qualifying: 7th
Race 5 Result: 14th
“It was a tough day for Jack Daniel’s Racing, we had a DNF again in the first race with a broken steering clevis, and the second race was where we were going to redeem ourselves,” said Todd Kelly.
“Starting eighth we got away to a good start, then after the safety car, with the new rules there was a massive drama up ahead.
“I got a good jump, right when everyone else jumped hard on the brakes, and I had to turn hard right to avoid what was going to be quite a large pile up.
“Obviously then I’ve wound up ahead of those guys before getting to the control line, and we received a drive through for it, which is frustrating.
“The only way to avoid getting the drive through penalty was to take out five cars, which wouldn’t have ended any better for me.
“It would have been great to let them back past and carry on, but unfortunately that put us at the back of the field with a fast car, which was not ideal.”
Rick Kelly, #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Nissan Altima
Race 4 Qualifying: 18th
Race 4 Result: DNF
Race 5 Qualifying: 14th
Race 5 Result: 24th
“That’s as tough as it gets, two DNFs looks like I’ve caught Todd’s bad luck bug unfortunately,” said Rick Kelly.
“We had brake failure in the first race, and it was a pretty hairy ride through the sand trap.
“We were going pretty well in the second race actually, but we didn’t have the best car out there.
“The straight line speed of those other cars out there is just amazing.
“The (Craig) Lowndes car, it drove itself, the speed it had up the straight was incredible.
“There’s not much we can do about that, we were sitting in tenth pretty well, I braked into turn six and just got punted off.
“That’s disappointing, because a tenth would have been great for the team with a car that wasn’t quite ideal.
“So we’ve got to fix it for tomorrow and go again, it’s a longer race with more opportunities.”