Norton Hornets driver James Moffat made history for Nissan Motorsport – and almost scored a podium finish – at Queensland Raceway yesterday.
Moffat took pole position for the 200km race, Nissan's first in the V8 Supercars Championship, before finishing fifth at the 3.1km Ipswich circuit.
The #360 driver was fourth on the final lap and tried an ambitious passing attempt on Chaz Mostert at Turn 3, only to end up in the sand trap. He recovered to take fifth place – his best race result for the 2014 season.
Moffat's teammate Michael Caruso finished eighth, but he was unlucky not to have placed higher after running out of fuel on the final straight. The fuel issue meant that he lost a spot to Nick Percat right on the finish line.
The next event on the V8 Supercars Championship will be at Sydney Motorsport Park on August 23-24
#360 James Moffat, Norton Nissan Altima
"Pole was a big highlight, not only for me personally, but for the team as well. It's the first championship pole for Nissan since coming back, so that's a great achievement for everyone. Our car was excellent in the first stint of the race, and I thought we were on for a pretty good day. In the middle stint, we came out in some traffic and just battled a bit for car balance. In the last stint, we knew we'd jump some people because it was a shorter fuel stop, and the balance of the car was better, but we were still battling in the slow speed corners. At the end with Chaz, it was the last lap and we were having a go for third. I'd rather have a go for third and have it not come off than not have a go at all. It was disappointing that we dropped a spot and finished fifth, but it wound up being a pretty good day, considering where we were running yesterday. It goes without saying that we have to keep this momentum going towards the endurance races – a time of year that I really enjoy the most."
#36 Michael Caruso, Norton Nissan Altima
"It was a shame to drop a spot at the end, right on the line. I didn't get the call from the crew right until the final lap that I was going to run out of fuel. To do 65 laps flat out and find out so late that we were in trouble was tough to swallow. I know seventh place isn't everything, but I had a good battle with Nick (Percat) for the place during the race. It was a fun out there. Overall, it has obviously been an encouraging weekend for the team, and I'm looking forward to getting back in the car in a couple of weeks at Eastern Creek."
Encouraging Signs for Jack Daniel's Nissans
The's 200km race at Queensland Raceway proved to be a positive affair for Jack Daniel's Racing's Rick and Todd Kelly, with the pair's Nissan Altimas registering solid progress, although not necessarily shown in the final results.
Overnight setup changes to both cars proved to pay dividends in the extended all soft-tire race, with Todd exclaiming post-race that the car was the best he had driven since the introduction of the New Generation V8 Supercars.
Unfortunately minor off-track excursions hindered both drivers, with Rick finishing 15th and Todd 21st. After 25 races, Rick sits 16th in the point standings amidst a tight pack, while Todd remains in 24th.
Rick Kelly - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Nissan Altima
"Unfortunately it was sometimes a little uneventful out there for me, especially when there are no safety cars. We got off to a reasonable start. The guys gave me a strategy to come out with a set of green tires at the end. I thought I had some more grip than what I did, and I went off at turn three and lost probably five spots. We should have finished ninth, and we wound up 15th, so unfortunately it was a silly mistake by me which cost us a pretty damn solid result, which probably would have been our second top 10 of the weekend. I'm a bit upset at myself for that, but we made some changes to the car today to change some handling traits that we've had all weekend, and I really think we managed to do that and make some good progress. Unfortunately everyone else seemed to make some pretty good progress overnight as well. After I made the mistake we still had good pace. I was racing with Tim Slade who drove a really solid race and didn't put a foot wrong, so that was the best we could do. It's on to the next one, which should be a good one for us. I'm looking forward to that."
Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Nissan Altima
"It's funny to say this, but I actually had a grin on my face for most of that race. The car was unbelievable. We changed it a little bit for qualifying, and we didn't really get the most out of it, and we went quite a bit further with it for the race, and it just hooked it up. I then made a change to the (anti-roll) bars late in the race on older tires when a lot of other guys were on greens, and we were one of the fastest cars on the track. So it really hooked up there towards the end, it's just a shame I didn't put qualifying together with that setup change, and I also had a lap where the brakes went right to the floor, and I couldn't pull it up before turn three and I lost a lot of time. It was a bad day results wise, but a good day with what we've found in the car, and I can't wait to get to the next round to see how it goes. But today was probably the best car we've had since we started with the Nissan Altimas."