24 NOV 2017
Nissan shows strong pace in Newcastle 500 practice
Nissan has shown promising early pace across today's practice sessions at the new and exciting Newcastle 500.
The Supercars field was introduced to the tight 2.6km circuit, which weaves through the city's east-end via spectacular beach-side views, across today's 2 x 40-minute practice sessions.
Todd Kelly finished as the fastest Nissan today and the third quickest overall. In his final event as a full-time competitor, Kelly missed most of the first session due to contact with Mark Winterbottom at turn one. The #7 carsales Racing driver utilised the day's second 40-minute session to further his knowledge of the challenging Newcastle circuit to record a 1:10.08 lap time. Kelly announced earlier in the week that he would retire from full-time driving at the conclusion of this weekend's action - bringing to a close a career of 20 years in Supercars. Check out the video below to learn more.
Michael Caruso started the day very competitively, as the #23 Nissan NISMO driver recorded the 4th fastest time in opening practice. Wearing new Nissan Financial Services colours for the weekend, Caruso was unable to put together a green tyre run later in the day but leaves confident of his pace heading into tomorrow's qualifying.
Rick Kelly sat just outside the Top 10 across the day's two practice sessions. The #15 Sengled Racing driver had acquainted himself with the new circuit yesterday on his skateboard (see video below), so it was not surprising when he was one of the first cars on the pace. Kelly is in a position to gain several places in the Championship points tomorrow, so the team aims to learn plenty from the data overnight.
Simona De Silvestro has been learning new tracks all year, so the challenges presented by the Newcastle circuit were perhaps less daunting for the Swiss driver than many others. The #78 Team Harvey Norman driver made several changes in-between sessions in an attempt to cure understeer and ended the day improving her lap time by over a second. Such gains have been representative of De Silvestro's learning throughout the year, as she is aiming to finish her first full-time year on a positive note.
Tomorrow at the Newcastle 500 features both a 20-minute qualifying and 250 km race.
Practice 1 Result:
P4 - Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO - 1:10.88
P11 - Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing - 1:11.14
P19 - Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing - 1:11.45
P25 - Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman - 1:11.83
Practice 2 Result:
P3 - Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing - 1:10.08
P11 - Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing - 1:10.33
P12 - Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO - 1:10.36
P20 - Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman - 1:10.79
Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing
"This track is fast becoming one of my favourites. It's a real challenge but very rewarding when you put it all together. We missed most of the first session after we bent the steering. So I only really learned the track in the second session, and we made one change right at the end which got it pretty good. It would have been handy to have a few more miles, but we aren't looking too bad right now. I couldn't think of a better way to finish my career, to be honest. This place has blown away my expectations. To be driving around such an amazing circuit for my last, it couldn't be more perfect."
Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing
"It's quite exciting to come to a new event and learn a new track. This isn't a straightforward track. It has a few very tricky areas. I enjoyed the challenge and process of learning the track as best as I could today. It was also quite a nice surprise to see so many people lining up at the gates at 7:30 this morning. It's exciting to see such interest in the event so early on in the weekend. So the job tonight will be to look at the data and try and find those few tenths that we need."
Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO
"It was great to get some laps around Newcastle today. The car was quite reasonable in the first session to end up fourth. We didn't get to do a full lap on new rubber in the second session. So we'll go away from today and ensure we're prepared for qualifying tomorrow. We'll try and soak it all in and digest a busy day. We'll need to be on top of our game to deliver a good result tomorrow. But I'm really excited to race around here."
Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman
"The track is pretty fun to drive. It's also pretty tricky as well. Our car is not too bad around here. We made a few changes in the second session, and it didn't quite deliver the results we wanted. But we have plenty of data from the other cars to look over tonight. So I think we'll be alright. The track is really busy, and you have no time to relax. 95 laps around here will be a fun challenge. I think I'm getting there in developing the car, so I want to finish the year on a high and get a good result."