18 JUN 2017
Nissan leaves Darwin with Top-10 result
Nissan Motorsport leaves the Crownbet Darwin Triple Crown having secured a pole position and a Top 10 finish across the event. Rick Kelly's qualifying performance for Saturday's race revealed the Altima's promising one lap potential. So the team will now head back to the Braeside workshop with renewed enthusiasm to translate that into race pace.
Rick Kelly was unable to repeat yesterday's qualifying heroics - where he claimed his 9th career pole position - and started today's 200km event from 12th on the grid. The #15 Sengled Racing driver made his way into the Top 10 early on in the race, where he made his first stop on lap 10. After pitting again on lap 34, Kelly then managed his tyres, along with pressure from Will Davison, to secure a 10th placed result.
While Todd Kelly demonstrated moments of good race pace over the weekend, challenging qualifying sessions ensured he was unable to exploit that speed more frequently. The #7 carsales Racing Altima lined up for today's event in 14th position on the grid. Kelly's tyre and fuel stops occurred on lap 17 and lap 41 and saw him rejoin in the mid-pack. The #7 Altima greeted the chequered flag in 20th position.
After showing promising speed in the weekend's practice sessions, Michael Caruso could not find the sweet-spot in his car for qualifying - starting today's event from 15th. This afternoon's race didn't involve any of the drama that plagued Caruso yesterday, but the 2016 Darwin race winner remained challenged with set-up issues for the duration of the event The #23 Nissan NISMO entry crossed the line in 19th.
A number of small issues led to Simona De Silvestro having the most challenging weekend of her Supercars career. The #78 Team Harvey Norman driver began today's event in 24th on the grid. A good start ensured she that by lap three she had moved up to 20th. A long second stint then elevated De Silvestro inside the Top 10. But a stall in pit lane, as well as late race contact with a competitor, resulted in a challenging end to the event. Despite crossing the line in 25th, De Silvestro's finishing position dropped down to 28th following a time penalty for late race contact with Dale Wood.
Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing - 10th
"This weekend for us was the time where we wanted to turn around our fortune and our pace. While we haven't turned around our fortune, yesterday showed that we could produce good pace. Today I locked the front into turn one and lost a couple of spots, which would've had us fighting in the middle of the Top 10. Ticking those qualifying and outright pace boxes is good. So we can head to Townsville with our head a little bit higher.
Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO - 19th
"It's been a disappointing weekend, particularly after coming back after our success last year. It just goes to show the importance of a good car at this place. Without the machine working right, it's hard to move much further up than 19th. Hopefully, we can turn it around. Townsville is the next event and one the whole team looks forward to."
Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing - 20th
"The car pace was reasonable and a lot better than what the result was in the end. We just kept being dragged back by getting stuck behind slower cars after pitstops. Had we had a clean run in strategy we should have been much further up. The car was really on the pace at times, so we'll move on to the next one aware of what we need to work on."
Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman - 25th (28th)
"Darwin is a cool place but definitely not the race weekend we wanted. It's been a tough one, so I'm keen to move onto the next round. We had some issues in the pitstops. I stalled in the first stop, and we put heaps of fuel in the second. So that killed us. So there's a lot of little things that still need to come together. It seems like our pace was close to the other Nissans, so we should have finished closer to them."