25 NOV 2017
Nissan bitten by brutal Newcastle 500 circuit
Nissan Motorsport has recorded a tough Top 10 finish following a dramatic race at the Newcastle 500 today. However, the 91 lap event had provided the potential for a much more promising afternoon...
Simona De Silvestro drove the race of her Supercars career and fell just a few laps short of a remarkable Top 5 finish today. Starting from 22nd on the grid, the #78 Team Harvey Norman driver jumped to 8th following a shrewd pit strategy. The Swiss driver elected to stay out and pit on the second lap under the safety car, removing much of the congestion plaguing teams that pitted earlier. De Silvestro was able to improve up the order throughout the race and faultlessly battled with some of the most experienced campaigners in the category. Embracing the role of leading Nissan driver for the near-duration of the event, De Silvestro's charge was only cut short when she found the wall on lap 78 after a battle with Tim Slade for 5th position. The team was able to repair the Altima, and De Silvestro crossed the line in 20th. While not achieving the result she deserved, the speed De Silvestro displayed today once again confirmed the potential that we'll no doubt see more of in 2018.
Rick Kelly led home the Nissan Motorsport squad with a 10th placed result after the first 250km leg around the streets of Newcastle. The #15 Sengled Racing driver started the event from 6th on the grid and took advantage of a lap one safety car to remain inside the Top 10 for most of the race. As many competitors struck problems, Kelly was able to keep out of trouble and now enters tomorrow's season finale with a straight car as well as plenty of data to look over tonight.
An incident in the pitlane on the opening lap set the tone for Todd Kelly's afternoon, as the #7 carsales Racing driver finished the race in 15th. The veteran started the penultimate race of his Supercars career from 14th on the grid. Hit from behind during a congested lap one safety car pit stop, the resulting damage, along with a failed brake lock-up warming sensor, ensured Kelly needed to battle all afternoon around the tight 2.96km circuit. Tomorrow the team will unveil a special tribute to the Supercar's legend as he concludes a 20 year career as a driver. Stay tuned for more details.
Michael Caruso was unable to convert a strong qualifying result today and finished in 14th place. The #23 Nissan NISMO driver, sporting a unique Nissan Financial Services livery for the weekend, suffered contact with Jamie Whincup in early stages of the race and found it difficult to recover from the resulting damage. The team employed a unique strategy, whereby repeatedly fuelling him under safety, in an attempt to gain more track position. However, being forced to double-stack later in the race would make any forward progress difficult. The promising speed displayed in qualifying leaves the team feeling confident of being competitive in tomorrow's final race of the 2017 Championship season.
Race 25 Qualifying Result:
P4 - Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO - 1:09.96
P6 - Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing - 1:10.03
P14 - Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing - 1:10.29
P22 - Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman - 1:10.60
Race 25 Result:
P10 - Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing
P14 - Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO
P15 - Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing
P20 - Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman
Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing
"It certainly wasn't as bad physically as I thought it would be. But I am a little bit frustrated with that result. Most drivers would be feeling a bit frustrated because you can't really pass much around here. I thought we had a really solid car and just got done in the pit lane. Tomorrow we just need to get qualifying right and be ahead of all that with our strategy."
Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing
"It was a tough race. Pit lane was a bit of a challenge at the start. I got nailed by one of the GRM cars. They gave the right rear a decent whack. I also lost my brake lock-up warming for the whole race, so I flat spotted the fronts near the start of the race. We needed to pit to get them off the car and I did that again a couple of times throughout the race. The pace was pretty good. But it was nice to just get through that. We'll try and keep out of trouble tomorrow and finish this thing with a good result."
Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO
"That was not the day we needed. We had a good start, and as we came up into turn 2, I had Van Gisbergen on my inside. Then we came around turn 3 and car 88, unfortunately, made contact with my left rear wheel, which resulted in damage to both cars. We'll bounce back tomorrow and see what we can do."
Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman
"The team made an awesome call on the first stop. We gained a lot of track position there. We had good pace and strong throughout the race. It showed that we can be there and that we just need to qualify better. Then, unfortunately, people didn't leave any space to race. So that was a bit frustrating. So my race ended pretty abruptly, and it was pretty frustrating to finish a day like that. At the end of the day, everybody looks at the result, and it was crappy. But at least it shows that I haven't forgotten how to drive, and I'm getting my head around how to drive these cars. So that's a pretty big positive."