Self-control key to Nissan improvement

Rick Kelly says self-control when engineering the Nissan Altima was key to his breakthrough double podium at Phillip Island.

The Nissan Motorsport owner/driver celebrated his 500th start in Supercars with a second place on Saturday, which he then backed up with a solid third on Sunday.

It was the first time a Nissan driver has even finished on the podium twice in one race weekend, and was Kelly's first double podium since the very first year of the Kelly Racing outfit in 2009, when it was running Holden Commodores.

According to Kelly, the difference was some self-control when it came to overnight set-up changes.

"Like most teams we find it rather difficult to make the same speed through the weekend," he said.

"Obviously people progress from Saturday to Sunday and you try and do exact same thing, it's only natural for a human to try and do better.

"We've just been trying to control ourselves a little bit with the changes from Saturday to Sunday, especially when we've got a great car. I think we did that very well this weekend, we were able to get a similar sort of result. We were a little bit stronger [on Sunday], in fact."

Sunday's race actually saw Kelly lead for the second stint, having used a short-fill at the first stop to jump Scott McLaughlin and David Reynolds. 

While a longer second stop meant he dropped back to third, he said being able to comfortably run at the front was a positive sign.

"It was still a day of firsts; first time we've been at the front of the queue, and first time we've been able to drive away and maintain a lead like that," he said.

"So there's plenty for us to look at it. It was the biggest learning weekend we've had in a long time."

Running at the front also gave Kelly the opportunity to observe how the best of the ZB Commodores and FG-X Falcons behave during a race.

"Normally when you've got the same race pace the cars handle the same, but they were very different," said Kelly.

"It's exciting seeing those differences from inside the cockpit, we can have a look at what we need to do to make our cars as strong as theirs. There are some places they are quick, and some places that we are strong that we can hopefully build on."

Kelly declined to make any bold predictions about how competitive he'll be at the next round in Perth, but did admit that the Nissan Motorsport team had unlocked something with the Altima for the Phillip Island.

"The category is changing so quickly, you can't predict what it's going to be like [in Perth]," he said.

"We came here, me personally, expecting that the Commodores were going to be so much stronger than they were because they've got a pretty speedy car up the straight sections, which translates to a lot of corner speed as well.

"I think there's a certain strength that we found in our car this weekend that can help us at most tracks if we can maintain it. So we've got to look at that. We learnt so much this weekend, so we can try and use that to our advantage.

"But we're still going to go to places that don't suit us. We've just got to get the most out of the opportunity that's there. [Sunday] we did that, [Saturday] we did that.

"If we go to Perth and the best we can do it fifth, we need to get that. If it's 10th, we need to get 10th and not make a mess of it.

"That's another thing we learnt here this weekend."

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Rick Kelly
Teams Nissan Motorsport (Australia)
Article type Breaking news