Rick Kelly finished just 2 seconds off the win to claim an impressive 2nd placed finish. In his 500th Supercars race, the #15 Castrol Racing driver started from 5th on the grid and remained up the front for the duration. A clever pit strategy provided Kelly with clean air as he drove smoothly and maintained his tyre life. The Nissan driver was able to hold off the advances of both Shane Van Gisbergen and Craig Lowndes to record a popular podium result.
Andre Heimgartner battled his way up the order and made up 5 positions across this afternoon’s event. The #7 Plus Fitness Racing driver started from 20th on the grid after a challenging qualifying session, and he fought his way through a congested mid-pack to cross the line in 15th.
Michael Caruso suffered an electrical gremlin in qualifying, which relegated the #23 Drive Racing entry to the back of the grid for this afternoon’s 57 lap race. After making a strategic pit stop on lap 1, Caruso battled his way up for the order until a tyre delamination forced an early second stop. From there, Caruso charged his way to the flag and crossed the line in 18th.
After a challenging qualifying session earlier in the day, Simona De Silvestro started Race 9 from 24th on the grid. The Swiss driver’s race was stunted early in the event after being turned around by James Golding – who was later penalised for the incident. Having to contend with subsequent steering damage, De Silvestro still managed to cross the line in 23rd.
Sunday at the WD-40 Phillip Island 500 consists of a 20-minute qualifying session and the event-concluding 250km race.
RICK KELLY #15 CASTROL RACING : “It looked like a boring race, but from inside the cockpit, it certainly wasn’t. Our strength is race pace and our weakness is qualifying pace. So to be able to start up the front, we were able to show our true pace. I got off the line well and had a conservative opening lap, then we found we had a really good car underneath us. I had to work really hard in that last stint. I saw Craig coming and it looked like I had it under control. But I didn’t think I did until the last few laps where I saw him sliding as much as I was. The changes we’ve made in how we approach the weekend is probably what has allowed us to finish where we did. The pit crew, strategy and myself had to back that up. We’ve got those critical components in the team, and we always have, but we just haven’t had the outright pace. When we had the outright pace today we were able to execute it by utilising those elements that our team definitely has. We’ve got to try hard to stay up here.”
QUALIFYING : P5 RACE 9: P2
ANDRE HEIMGARTNER #7 PLUS FITNESS RACING : “It wasn’t too bad, there were some positives from it, having some good speed was nice and we seemed to unlock something we missed in qualifying. So there is still some more to come but it is good to have a car that is speedy. You know if the race was longer I’m sure we would have moved up further again.”
QUALIFYING: P20 RACE 9: P15
MICHAEL CARUSO #23 DRIVE RACING : “Yeah look unfortunately the electrical problem that we had in qualifying had us at the back of the grid for the long race. But we managed to move up a few spots despite a tyre delamination, we were handicapped throughout the race and the day. So we’ll freshen up for tomorrow . Fantastic to see Rick get a podium on his 500th race. I mean, 500 races is special as it is, but to do it in style like and grab a podium he must be pretty proud. So hopefully we can help out that tomorrow.”
QUALIFYING: P25 RACE 9: P18
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO #78 TEAM HARVEY NORMAN : “We started at the back but we made some positions which was pretty good. But we kind of got in a bit of a tangle with Le Brocq, which was a bit my fault, and then Golding turned me around. So it has been one of those days, but tomorrow is another day.”
QUALIFYING: P24 RACE 9: P23
TODD KELLY TEAM OWNER : “It’s been a tough start to the year, we’ve done an incredible amount of work in the last six months with every single aspect of the car and it hasn’t really netted us a result. So for me, that is a huge load off because everyone has really dug deep and we’ve certainly spent a heck of a lot of money to get to this point. So today just showed us when we get it right, we now actually have a car that can do the job. So hopefully this will give everybody the lift that they need and it’s a new phase for us.”
Press release Nissan Motorsport