QUEENSLAND, Australia – Nissan Motorsport has gritted its teeth through a variable final day at the Castrol Townsville 500, which was held from July 4 to 6. Norton Nissan driver Michael Caruso has finished 10th in Race 20 and 11th in Race 22 of the V8 Supercars Championship at Townsville, but the final result could have been so much better.
While running with the leading group at the first round of pit stops in Race 21, Will Davison collided with Caruso at the Norton pit bunker. The clash broke the rear right suspension of Caruso's Norton Hornet, ruling him out of the race. Davison was handed a drive-through penalty for his mistake.
In Race 22, having started 16th, Caruso's Norton Hornets team rolled the dice on strategy, pitting early in the race after a Lap 1 Safety Car. The move put him at risk of running close on fuel, and he was forced to conserve fuel in his final stint. At the start of the final stint, he was placed sixth, but could pressure those in front while he managed his fuel situation. He fell down the order and eventually ran out of fuel with 150 meters of the race to go, coughing across the line to take 11th place.
Fellow Norton Nissan driver James Moffat was hamstrung early, double stacking behind Caruso in the first pit stop in Race 22. This was compounded when he spun his wheels during the stop, earning himself a drive-through penalty. Moffat battled on, making his way from last place to eventually take a respectable 16th overall.
The Jack Daniel's Nissan drivers of Rick and Todd Kelly also had a tough day in the final race of the weekend, finishing 18th and 19th respectively. The duo helped Jack Daniel's celebrate its 300th race in the V8 Supercars Championship by competing with a special, one-off livery, commemorating the milestone race.
The next event of the V8 Supercars Championship will be held at Queensland Raceway over August 1 to 3.
Michael Caruso, #36 Norton Nissan Altima
"Our 10th place in the Race 20 was exceptional. In terms of the championship, you have to keep plucking away and getting those good results. In Race 21, it was extremely disappointing. And I'm gutted, absolutely gutted about this result in Race 22. Finishing 11th isn't something we should be gutted about, but when we had a chance at top five - maybe better - it's very disappointing. I was sitting behind Percat in 6th into the last stint, and I just had to watch him drive away. After a DNF in Race 22, it's nice to get some points in the bag, but we need to seriously look at that and make sure it never happens again."
James Moffat, #360 Norton Nissan Altima
"It's been a disappointing and frustrating day. Getting the drive-through penalty really sealed our fate, and it has been an untidy weekend for us. Spinning the wheels was unfortunate. We have procedures for that, but it was quite messy with the double stacking, so I might have made a mistake, but I've never done it before."
Rick Kelly, #15 Jack Daniel's Nissan Altima
"It was a bit of a tough one. The early Safety Car wasn't what we wanted, and that really set the tone for the rest of the race. It was a long, uneventful race from where I sat. When you have tough days like that, you just have to do your best, gather up any points that are on offer and move on. I think there's still more we can get out of the set-up of our cars while we wait for further improvements to the car."
Todd Kelly, #7 Jack Daniel's Nissan Altima
"It's a pretty challenging race over that distance. We made a change to the car from qualifying to try and help the car look after its tires and give us some better drive. It made the car harder to drive, so it was a pretty long old race. I'm just happy to get it home in one piece."
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