Nissan Motorsport have narrowly missed out on a Top 10 result after a challenging first race at the Townsville 400 this afternoon.
Andre Heimgartner was the leading Nissan after 70 laps of racing around Townsville today. The #7 Plus Fitness entry finished in P12, after a late race safety car period gave him the opportunity to exploit his fresher rubber. The hard charging 23-year-old had initially lined up on the grid in 21st, as he then spent the afternoon driving a mature and controlled race around the challenging Reid Park circuit.
Rick Kelly looked set to secure a Top 10 finish today, before the #15 Castrol Racing entry struggled with tyre life late in the 200km race. After qualifying in 10th, Kelly worked his way up to 7th before eventually crossing the line in 16th. The team will review the data overnight in order to better understand the degradation challenges ahead of tomorrow’s race.
Simona De Silvestro made early progress in the #78 Team Harvey Norman entry, after the Swiss driver started from 21st on the grid. Racing in the mid-pack, De Silvestro was hit with a pit-lane penalty for an unsafe release during the first round of stops, which relegated her to 25th and one lap down. Tomorrow presents the opportunity to finish the weekend on a high with another 200km event.
Michael Caruso was unable to make the grid for this afternoon’s 70 lap event, as an electrical issue left him stranded on the circuit during the warm-up lap. The team have since identified the issue in the #23 Drive Racing Nissan and are confident that it will not re-appear in tomorrow’s race.
ANDRE HEIMGARTNER #7 PLUS FITNESS RACING : « It was a positive race for us. I lost a few spots on the opening lap by being overly careful, which is better than being in a first lap shunt. The safety car at the end really helped us get onto the tail of the field. With our fresher rubber, we were able to make a few passes and finish just outside the Top 10. Tomorrow is a new day and I’m looking forward to having another go. »
RICK KELLY #15 CASTROL RACING : « We had really good pace in the first and second stint. For some reason the last stint was horrendous for us, pace-wise. We got hustled by a couple of guys and ended up where we did. We need to understand what the issue were and how to avoid them when we race over the same distance tomorrow. We’ll re-group and go again. »
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO #78 TEAM HARVEY NORMAN : « That was a a disappointing race for us. We had good pace early in the race and we were racing really well in the mid-pack. Then we got a drive through, which was really annoying, but that’s how it was. So if we can avoid any issues like that tomorrow, we should be able to bring home a strong result. »
MICHAEL CARUSO #23 DRIVE RACING : « A DNS next to your name is never nice. Not even starting the race is pretty heart wrenching. We’ll work out what the problem was, likely to be either electrical or battery related, and we’ll get back out there tomorrow. »
Press release Nissan Motorsport]]>