by Michael Teychenne
on 27 November, 2017

Nissan Motorsport has ended the 2017 Supercars Championship on a high, as the team recorded strong performances from all four drivers at this weekend's inaugural Newcastle 500. A dual Top 5 result on Sunday has also ensured the squad finished the all-important Team's Championship in 6th place.

Rick Kelly led home the Nissan quartet with a season-best 4th placed result in yesterday's last race of the year. The #15 Sengled Racing driver lined up an impressive 6th on the grid following a tidy shootout lap. Kelly's afternoon would see him play a crucial role in securing 6th place in the Team's Championship. Working in partnership with Michael Caruso, the pair stayed well clear of the late race chaos to elevate the team up the pit garage order for next year's season.

Michael Caruso's aggressive driving style appeared perfectly suited to the challenging Newcastle street circuit, as he claimed an impressive 5th placed result yesterday. Earlier in the day, Caruso backed up Saturday's P4 qualifying result by starting Sunday's 95 lap event from 7th on the grid. The #23 Nissan NISMO driver worked with team-mate Rick Kelly to secure Team's Championship points, and now enters the off-season break encouraged by his late season form.

Todd Kelly crossed the line to finish his final ever race in an impressive 10th place. The Nissan Motorsport co-owner had announced his retirement before the weekend and was racing in a unique livery that celebrated his 20 years in Supercars. A gutsy performance in the afternoon's Top 10 Shootout was well received by the massive crowds, and Kelly made it his objective to greet the chequered flag one final time. By keeping out of trouble and driving a sensible race, Kelly made it to the finish and now begins the next chapter of his life. Expect to still see Kelly at racetracks in 2018.

Despite a championship battle taking place during Sunday's race, it was Simona De Silvestro's aggression that arguably overshadowed that contest early on. The Swiss driver made several bold moves to reiterate the speed she demonstrated in Saturday's event. Her charge was cut short however, when Championship contender Scott McLaughlin turned the #78 Team Havey Norman entry around at turn 2. De Silvestro rejoined in 22nd and lost over 30 seconds in the incident. While De Silvestro crossed the line in her qualifying position of 17th, the guts she demonstrated across both Saturday and Sunday's races reminded race fans of the potential she possesses heading into year 2 of her Supercars assault

Race 26 Grid:
P6 - Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing
P7 - Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO
P10 - Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing
P17 - Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman

Race 26 Result:
P4 - Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing
P5 - Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO
P10 - Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing
P17 - Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman

Drivers Championship Points
Michael Caruso - P13 -1776
Rick Kelly - P14 - 1773
Todd Kelly - P18- 1536
Simona De Silvestro - P24 - 1131

Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing

"I am sure that everyone would agree that we would have loved to be one position up and to have grabbed a podium. It was a good race - 4th, 5th, and 10th is a solid performance from the team. But today has been all about TK. The job he has done to make it into the shootout and finish inside the Top 10 has been terrific. Though his entire career he had shown the path for me over those 20 years. It's been really impressive how everyone has chipped in and made it special. It's definitely been one to remember. Now we can roll into next year after finishing with such a positive result."

Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO

"The car was sensational today. We got some clear air in the middle stint and it just lit up. It was really quick and consistent. In the pit stop, we lost a spot to Ricko and it turned out to be good for the team's Championship. We had BJR to beat as a group, so that little buffer between us really helped us out. So overall, it was a fantastic result. Congratulations to TK, he finished with a shootout and Top 10 result. He should be really proud of a stellar career."

Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing

"I really wanted to get a good result for my last day in the car. Just to finish around this place seems like a good result. I was quite cautious for most of the race. I did not want a DNF for my last time. We had a car that was good enough to press on a little bit, but I decided to hang back and take tenth rather than risk it. I was pretty emotional when I pulled up and saw everyone standing outside the garage. I was completely fine until then, but that knocked me about. We're done now. I'm finished. I came to terms with my decision before the weekend. The race team really needs to take priority now, and it's a critical time for us. We've pushed hard in the second half of this season in preparations for next year. We want to make next year the best year yet. Having that as a goal is making me feel better about not being in the car."
Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman

"It was pretty crazy race out there. I had a strong car for most of the afternoon and was able to pass a few cars, which was cool. But unfortunately, we got turned around by a pretty silly move, which ruined our day. The car was really strong this weekend, so I'm annoyed we didn't record the results that reflected that pace. But this is really positive for next year to end this season with such good pace."


TK helmet