by Michael Teychenne
on 09 July, 2017

Nissan Motorsport now has a few weeks back at the workshop to build upon the promising signs displayed at last weekend’s WATPAC Townsville 400.

The Sunday event started strongly for Rick Kelly, as his qualifying performance saw him make it into Top 10 Shootout. The #15 Sengled Altima recorded a very smooth shootout lap and moved up from 10th to 7th for the afternoon’s 200km event. Early contact with a competitor not only took a bit of speed out of the Altima but also forced an early second stop on lap 37 to repair a rubbing guard. Kelly then drove conservatively to the flag and crossed the line in 12th position.

Michael Caruso narrowly missed out on today’s Top 10 Shootout after qualifying the #23 Nissan NISMO in 11th. A good start and a long first stint left him competitively in the midpack. However, increasing understeer issues resulted in Caruso finishing in 13th. The team will use the break before the next round in Ipswich to investigate the issues further.

Traffic proved to be the major challenge for Todd Kelly over the weekend. The #7 carsales driver, wearing a new boatsales branded livery for the round, demonstrated strong pace in clean air, but the tight and twisty Reid circuit provided few opportunities to maximize that pace. After being forced to retire from Saturday's race, Kelly enjoyed a much less dramatic 200km event the next day and crossed the line in 17th.

Simona De Silvestro completed a solid weekend of developing her skills at one of the most relentless street circuits on the calendar. The #78 Team Harvey Norman driver started the event's final 200km race from 24th on the grid and kept out of trouble to finish in 23rd position. The learning continues for De Silvestro, as Queensland Raceway presents another new track for the Swiss driver to learn ahead of the Coates Hire Ipswich Supersprint at the end of the month.


Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing
"It was great to make it into the Top 10 Shootout and then make up a few places with my one lap time. The race pace of the car was also pretty strong. So it was a promising day for us. We had some contact in turn two on lap one, and a battle with Cam Waters resulted in some damage to the front of the car, which took the pace away. I made a few bar changes to compensate with what was going on, which made for a long day from a driver’s point of view. I’m pretty happy with the pace of the car and how we were able to resolve issues from the previous day’s race. It was a disappointing result overall, but a very promising weekend."

Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO
"Street circuits are pretty renowned for the importance on qualifying. We did pretty well earlier in the day and only just missed out on the shootout. Ultimately, the understeer issues we’ve been having for the past few events is killing us. We really need to find the issue before the next round and put us back to where we think we belong."

Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing
"It’s really tough to pass at this place. The car wasn’t too bad today. I’d catch the cars in front reasonably easy. But then the car would overheat, so I’d have another go at them. So it had the pace, but we didn’t quite make it passed the cars we needed to in the pit stop sequence. If I had been able to get in front, I think I could have driven away from them. So we should have been a little bit further up, but that was pretty much our day.

Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman
"We had a pretty positive weekend overall. When we had the car in the window, we were able to race hard and pass a few cars. We’ve now got a bit of time before the next round to learn another track and work out the best approach with my engineer. Townsville is a pretty cool place and the weather made for a very nice weekend."


Rick Kelly - P10* / 1:12:52 / +.4964
Michael Caruso - P11 / 1:12.56 / +.5355
Todd Kelly - P14 / 1:12.59 / +.5687
Simona De Silvestro - P24 / 1:13.29 / +1.268

*Rick Kelly made three places in the Top 10 Shootout to start from 7th on the grid.

Rick Kelly - P12
Michael Caruso - P13
Todd Kelly -P17
Simona De Silvestro - P23