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Supercars – Two Nissan in Top 10 at Darwin

Nissan Motorsport has claimed a pair of Top 10 finishes following this afternoon’s first race at the Crownbet Darwin Triple Crown. Rick Kelly was the first Nissan across the line in 6th after 120km of action around Hidden Valley Raceway. The #15 Castrol Racing driver qualified in 4th on the grid and an early pit stop almost elevated Kelly past Scott McLaughlin into the lead. Kelly spent the remainder of the race putting on a defensive driving display, as his limited tyre performance made him vulnerable to other competitors. The 6th placed result continues Kelly’s strong form heading into tomorrow’s 200km race. Michael Caruso greeted the chequered flag in 10th, but a small error late in the race potentially robbed him of a much stronger result. After starting 9th, the #23 Drive Racing entry ran a very long opening stint and inherited the lead of the race. The plan was to provide Caruso with much fresher rubber than his competitors for the final few laps. Despite a small mistake into turn one, Caruso was able to recover and claim another Top 10 finish. Andre Heimgartner recorded one of his strongest qualifying results of the season when he lined up 7th for this afternoon’s 42 lap race. The #7 Plus Fitness Racing driver had a difficult start and dropped a few places as several competitors created chaos into the first corner. Heimgartner’s intensive pre-season fitness regime came to the fore in the very hot conditions, as he managed his car to the flag in 16th. Simona De Silvestro made progress across this afternoon’s race to finish in 22nd position. After starting 24th on the grid, the #78 Team Harvey Norman driver made up several positions prior to the first round of pit stops. In only her second visit to the Hidden Valley circuit, De Silvestro was challenged with tyre life issues late in the race. The team will aim to improve the balance of the Altima prior to tomorrow’s qualifying. Sunday at the CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown consists of a 20-minute qualifying, Top 10 Shootout and an event-ending 200km race.

DRIVER QUOTES RICK KELLY #15 CASTROL RACING : « I attacked as hard as I could and chose my battles as wisely as I could. We obviously have good one-lap pace but we can’t hold onto the tyres for the full race distance. We started to heat up the tyres and the places I had to slow the car down cost us a lot of time. We‘ll take away the learnings from that. We didn’t expect the tyres to drop off like that, otherwise we wouldn’t have picked the strategy we did. But on paper the strategy was good, we just didn’t have the car to match the aggression. So tomorrow we’ll reset and make the car a bit better in the race. » QUALIFYING: P4 RACE 15: P6

MICHAEL CARUSO #23 DRIVE RACING : « The car was pretty good and the crew did an amazing pitstop, so it was disappointing that we weren’t able to maximise today’s opportunity. I went off at turn one late in the race and that cost us a Top 6 spot. We did our homework and we came into the race with an idea of what might happen. Running long looked like the right approach, but we just need to qualify better tomorrow. » QUALIFYING: P9 RACE 15: P10

ANDRE HEIMGARTNER #7 PLUS FITNESS RACING : « The car wasn’t too bad today. We had pretty good speed, but we just lost of a couple of spots off the line. So the afternoon got busier as I had to try and and get them back. We were able to make a few good passes, which is alway fun. I’ll sit down with Dilan and we’ll figure out how best to resolve some of the balance issues ahead of qualifying tomorrow. I’ll also spend a bit of time ensuring I’m properly recovered after a hot afternoon in the car. » QUALIFYING: P7 RACE 15: P16

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO #78 TEAM HARVEY NORMAN : « Missing two-tenths in qualifying put us further back than we would have liked. So that made it a long afternoon for us. The car itself is pretty good. Chris and I have made progress across the weekend, so we just need to understand where we’re strong and where we need to improve. The hot weather didn’t bother me too much. Now we’ll just do ice baths and all of that ahead of tomorrow. » QUALIFYING: P24 RACE 15: P22

Press release Nissan Motorsport

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