05 NOV 2017
Positive finish to the Auckland SuperSprint
Nissan Motorsport has finished the weekend with promising race pace in today's final event at the Auckland SuperSprint. All four Altimas moved up the order and improved on their qualifying position at the conclusion of 70 laps around Pukekohe Park Raceway.
Michael Caruso finished as the highest placed Nissan driver in 11th position at the end of today's 200km race. The #23 Nissan NISMO driver started in 13th and charged inside the Top 10 early on. After dropping a few places following the first round of pit stops, Caruso was able to recover and earn valuable points in the Team's Championship.
Rick Kelly ran an aggressive strategy this afternoon, as he crossed the line in 12th just as his fuel tank ran dry. After making a good start from 16th place, the #15 Sengled Racing driver lost several positions avoiding the chaos of the opening lap. It would then take Kelly most of the race to reclaim them. Strong pace, as well as a solid strategy, ensured Kelly made consistent progress through the event.
Simona De Silvestro impressed as she battled with a number of competitors and crossed the line in 17th. The #78 Team Harvey Norman driver started from 23rd on the grid and avoided the opening lap carnage to be 15th by lap 10. A long opening stint saw De Silvestro inherit the lead, before a tyre puncture on the entry to pit lane cost 20 seconds. The Swiss-driver overcame the issues and battled to the flag.
The nature of Todd Kelly's afternoon was decided on the opening lap. The #7 carsales Racing driver was forced to take avoiding action after several competitors caused an accident at the hairpin. Kelly dropped to the back of the pack and was forced to pit, as the contact left him with suspension damage. The opening stint on his tyres was reduced from fifteen lap to one. Despite the challenges, Kelly charged to the line and finished in 18th place.
The team now heads to the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 for the final round of this year's championship. The debut event around the streets of Newcastle will provide unique challenges for both driver and car.
Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO
"It was a good battle throughout the race. We had strong pace across the afternoon and the car felt great. We were able to dial out most of the things that had hampered us earlier in the weekend. So by the time the race arrived we had a pretty good package. It would have been great to finish inside the Top 10, and I thought that was on the cards, but it just didn't work out in the end. Newcastle will be a very exciting way to end the year. This is a brand new track for everyone, and the design looks like it will provide some good racing. There's still plenty of Team's Championship points on the line, so we'll keep working hard and battling to the end of the season."
Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing
"We got a really good start off the line. That put us on the outside at one, which was ok, and then that put us on the outside at three and four, and there just wasn't the grip there. We just oversteered the whole way round, so I lost a couple of spots, which is part of the game. There was a bit of drama at five and six on the opening lap and then a massive drama at eight. We were fortunate to get through all that without damage. However, it cost five or six spots in total from turn two to turn eight. So the rest of the race was just trying to claw back what we lost there. We drove as hard as we could and were as aggressive as we possibly could have been on the pit strategy, which I'm really proud of the guys for. We recovered to get back up to where we roughly were at the apex of turn two. It's a harsh 70 laps when you have 70 laps to make up for three corners of drama, but that's the way it is. We go to the last one full of enthusiasm."
Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing
"I thought I did all I could during that race. I just got clobbered pretty good at the rear, and that knocked the tyre clean off the rim and bent it too. I thought it actually took the whole left rear suspension out of the car. That was on the first lap. We came straight into the pits, and the guys put a new tyre on it. By some miracle, the suspension was good enough to go back out. I had to do two stints in that race rather than three, so it was a big battle trying to get the tyres to hang on to it. We survived the race, but unfortunately it wasn't our day right from the start."
Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman
"It was a good race, except for the tyre failure that really hurt us a lot. I think we lost almost 20 seconds there. We had good pace. The car was really good. I think it was the first time this year that the car was how I wanted it for the whole race. So big thanks to the guys because I felt the car was really solid today. We just need to work a bit on qualifying, and that is a bit on my side to start a little bit more up front.
"Newcastle will be interesting for sure with everybody not knowing the track. All of us will go there with literally no data and have to figure it out. I'm really looking forward to it."