The first night race held on Australian soil in over 20 years proved hugely popular with fans, as over 30,000 spectators attended the fireworks filled single-race event.
Rick Kelly was the leading Nissan home after 300km of racing. The #15 Castrol Racing driver continued his strong 2018 qualifying form earlier in the day by lining up 4th on the grid. A difficult first stint was compounded with a slow puncture in his second, before Kelly demonstrated the improved race pace of the Altima to complete the strong 6th placed result. Kelly has also now solidified his position inside the Top 10 on Championship points.
After starting 23rd on the grid, Simona De Silvestro charged through the field to cross the line in 14th place tonight. The #78 Team Harvey Norman entry had been battling with oversteer throughout qualifying, but the Swiss driver fought hard and made consistent progress all evening.
Michael Caruso delivered a strong qualifying performance to line up inside the Top 10 for tonight’s 77 lap event. Despite showing early promise, Caruso was taken out late in the race by Anton de Pasquale. The Erebus driver copped a points penalty for the incident, with Caruso and his wounded Altima crossing the line in 22nd place.
Andre Heimgartner’s evening was decided very early on. The #7 Plus Fitness Racing driver was taken out of contention following contact with Garth Tander. The resulting suspension damage forced Heimgartner into the pits and would result in the 23-year-old losing multiple laps to the leaders.
The next event in the Championship in the OTR SuperSprint at the brand new Tailem Bend circuit.
RICK KELLY #15 CASTROL RACING
“Sixth was pretty good for us. One thing we had been working hard on lately was our race pace and I think we achieved that. Even though it’s cold and at night, tyre degradation around this place is still pretty significant. So we had a big swing at the race package and the last stint proved we made some good in-roads there. Sixth isn’t a great result given our one-lap speed, but we bagged plenty of points tonight. The race wasn’t without incident though. We had a slow puncture before our second stop and that probably cost us a position or two at the end. But overall, we’ve got to be really happy with the direction we’re heading in.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO #78 TEAM HARVEY NORMAN
“It was quite cool to race under lights tonight. The race was pretty straightforward for us though. All the drivers seemed to get used to it straight away. We had good race pace and struggled with rear tyre life a little bit. We had been struggling with oversteer all weekend and that remained the same in the race. But to finish P14 after starting much further down the order is a good achievement. I liked the event and hope we do more of them. It’s a fun idea to come along to the race track at night. We saw from the number of fans here tonight that a lot of people did that.”
MICHAEL CARUSO #23 DRIVE RACING
“The whole event has been an amazing achievement. It was great to see such a massive crowd out there tonight. So hopefully we’re able to expand the night racing concept into the future. From a driving point of view, it offers plenty of thrills and plenty of challenges. We qualified well today and made it into the Top 10. We were able to maintain the position early in the race, which was pretty promising. Unfortunately, we got taken out right near the end and that put us right at the back. But that is pretty familiar to us now. To get taken out twice in a month is really disappointing. But it’s our job now to ensure we’re further up the order and away from all of that.”
ANDRE HEIMGARTNER #7 PLUS FITNESS RACING
“We’re going through a bit of bad luck at the moment. I had the whole race to think about it. We got taken out pretty early and had to come into the garage to repair the suspension. Tander turned in to me twice and that ended my race. The car had felt pretty good across the weekend up until that point. The event was a lot of fun, even if my race was a bit boring. I found enjoyment in following other drivers doing their thing. Looking forward to the Bend next round where we all start fresh on a new track.”
Press release Nissan Motorsport