The four-car Nissan squad overcame a number of challenges in the lead up to the event, and after battling hard over six hours, the team leaves the Great Race immensely motivated by the positives displayed.
Rick Kelly was the leading Nissan home today, with #11 Castrol Racing entry crossing the line in 11th. Kelly took the race start in the Larry Perkins-inspired Nissan, before handing over to Garry Jacobson on lap 19. The Super2 star drove sensibly across his stints, with Kelly taking over from lap 94 to the chequered flag. Smooth pitstops across the day ensured that Kelly was on for a Top 10 result at the pointy end of the afternoon, however, that result just slipped passed the Castrol driver. But 11th place provides a solid haul of points for Kelly in the Championship standings.
Simona De Silvestro has crossed the line in 14th, making up an impressive twelve positions across today’s race. Partnering with Alex Rullo, De Silvestro started from 26th on the grid and made good early progress to be the leading Nissan driver by lap 31. The Swiss-native had moved it up to 13th by the time she handed over to Rullo. Tim Slade was penalised for contact with Rullo at the Chase on lap 42, which resulted in the 19-year old dropping several places. This, along with Altima’s stubborn reluctance to leave the pit bay following De Silvestro’s final stop, ensured that 14th position was an impressive fightback for the pair.
Andre Heimgartner has greeted the flag in 16th place after battling for 1000km today. The #7 Castrol/Plus Fitness Racing entry qualified for the Great Race on the seventh row of the grid, with Heimgartner electing to take the race start. Unable to pass Kelly in the early stages, Heimgartner and co-driver Aaren Russell were forced to double-stack behind their team-mate, resulting in the combo losing significant time in the pits. Despite this challenge, Car 7 pulled off a number of impressive moves to stay in the mid-pack flight for the whole afternoon.
Michael Caruso’s difficult weekend was concluded early, when an engine drama forced the #23 Industrial Athlete Racing entry into retirement after 69 laps. Caruso started today’s race in 16th, before handing over to longtime co-driver Dean Fiore on lap 14. The duo had been challenged by a number of small issues across the weekend, and unfortunately, this trend continued into the race. A brake bias adjuster was knocked during the pair’s first driver change, resulting in Fiore locking up and making contact with the wall at turn one – losing almost 2 laps as the team inspected the damage. However, it would be a loss of engine power that would ultimately signal the end of their campaign on Lap 72.
The next event in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is the Vodafone Gold Coast 600. This will be the final race in the 3-event PIRTEK Enduro Cup. Nissan Motorsport has recorded a number of podium finishes around the streets of the Gold Coast, and will be aiming to repeat those performances as the Championships enters the final few rounds.
#7 CASTROL / PLUS FITNESS RACING
“It’s an annoying race when you’ve got the speed to end up higher than where you finished. We lost over a minute in the pits, so we had some challenges to overcome. We tuned the car and had it in the window at the right time. So it’s unfortunate we weren’t able to leave with the result we think we were on for. But that’s racing. Aaren and I will bounce back for the next one.”
“It was a tough race. We just lost too much time double-stacking. We were aiming for a Top 10. But the issues in the pits and a few mistakes from both of us worked against us. It is what it is. It just wasn’t our day. This track can throw everything at you, but I really enjoyed it.”
#78 TEAM HARVEY NORMAN
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO
“That was a lot of fun. We had really good pace throughout the race and Alex did an awesome job. The car didn’t want to leave the pits after the last two stops, so we lost a bunch of time and probably would have finished just behind Rick. We recovered well with good speed. I’m really happy with the pace we had in the race. It’s just a shame we couldn’t find that set-up during qualifying. But now we’ll look at the Gold Coast next, my home race, and I think we’ll be able to deliver a strong result.”
“Happy to get to the end of that one. It was pretty much a 50/50 split with Simona during the race today. So i’m happy with how I performed. The car pace was really good, we were down a bit on the straights, but overall, the car was awesome. We probably could of had a few more places if things had gone our way, but I’m very happy with how we went. Bring on the Gold Coast.”
#11 CASTROL RACING
“We lost a bit of time in the mid-part of the race, but ultimately, we got the most out of the package. We had hoped we are arriving here with a strong car, but it looks like we’ll got a bit of work to do. It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth for everybody. We got the most out of what we had on the day. But the teamwork side of things was executed very well. We’ll grab the points and get out of here.”
“I’m really happy with what i’ve been able to learn from Rick – he’s an exceptional guy. The whole team have been really helpful and supportive. We were mistake-free with our pitstops and our pace was good in clear-air. From a personal point of view, I got a lot out of this weekend. Experiences like this will allow me to go into the Gold Coast and perform at a higher level.”
#23 INDUSTRIAL ATHLETE
“I’m disappointed in the end result, given how much we’ve had to overcome throughout the week. We knew we were going to be in for a tough afternoon, with the straight line issues we had up to that point. I can’t fault the team’s effort in working together to try and fix it. It hurts all of us, but we’ve got to get over it and turn it around at the Gold Coast.”
“I’m really disappointed in how I performed today. It was a mistake that should not have been made. It turns out we’d knocked the bias during the driver change. Then I grazed the wall, which didn’t turn out to be too bad. But then coming out of the dipper, I got on the throttle and the thing sounded like it was a four-stroke. That was it – day done.”
Press release Nissan Motorsport