Pit Crew Profile: NM 360

  • 16/08/2013
  • By V8 Supercars
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

James Moffat has had a string of positive results in his Norton Hornets Nissan Altima this season, with three top 10 finishes so far for 2013.

Meet the team behind the #360 (pictured left to right). 

Alex Somerset, race engineer

It’s the relentless development and competitiveness that keeps 46-year old Somerset engaged with motorsport.

Having grown up in Lymington in the UK, Somerset has done stints with Triple Eight in the UK, having been with the organisation for three years from 2006; and Lotus Junior (World Series 3.5 and GP2); before joining Nissan Motorsport – then Kelly Racing – in 2012.

His career highlight was achieving four BTCC championships in a row with Matt Neal and Fabrizio Giovanardi.

“My grandfather ran a small, low-key stock car team – I’ve been around engines, cars and race cars all my life,” Somerset said.

Nickname: “I don’t have one, and the last one who gave me one has a bloody nose!” 

Nathan McColl, data engineer

Breaking into motorsport as a “weekend warrior” with Formula Ford and Formula Three teams, McColl began his career with Dick Johnson Racing in 2011 as a data engineer.

After two years with the Queensland-based team, and a time as engineer on Dean Fiore’s car, McColl shifted to Melbourne-based Nissan Motorsport to work on #360.

“I pretty much got into motorsport when I was a kid and have always been interested,” he said.

“I got my start asking around, volunteering and helping on weekends.”

He enjoys being part of a factory-backed team, though there are plenty of challenges.

Nickname: “I’ve had nicknames in the past in previous teams, but I haven’t got one here. I’ve had Chaz at DJR because I’d worked with Chaz Mostert. I’m sure time will tell!”

George Lia, mechanic number one

Lia has been at the Kelly brothers’ team since it was founded in 2009, and has previously worked in the machine shop as a damper technician and is number one mechanic on Moffat’s car this year.

Having grown up in Sydney, Lia has always been interested in racing – he raced go karts and also crewed for his cousin in off-road racing in younger years.

He started in V8 Supercars in 2004, with Tasman Motorsport, as a fitter/turner and race crew, and was with the team four years.

In fact, that’s where his career highlights were achieved, “Finishing second at Bathurst in 2005 with Jason Richards and Jamie Whincup and third at Bathurst in 2008 (JR and Greg Murphy)… Working with Jason Richards was a massive highlight for me. He was a great bloke.”

Murphy also raced for the Kelly’s team, and Lia recalls ARMOR ALL Pole Position and then third at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in 2011 with him as a highlight.

Nickname: “Choco. Because I’m of European decent!”

Richard Harris, mechanic number two/electrician

Having grown up in Essex in the UK, Harris has always had a big interest in motorsport. The now 26-year old started as a road car mechanic at a dealership and progressed his way up to data engineer for various race teams in Europe and Australia.

“I competed in karting before moving into crew roles with teams,” he said. “I was chief mechanic for a team in the Northern European Championship (NEC), progressed to junior engineer. Worked in European FIA GT3 and LMP3. Relocated to Australia in 2011 as data engineer for Greg Murphy (‘11) and Karl Reindler (2012).

“I won my first two races as a junior engineer in Formula Renault. Finished second in NEC 2010 as chief mechanic.”

Nickname:Dickie. It’s a typical British nickname for someone called Richard. It can be extended to ‘Knobby’ but the Australians haven’t picked up on that yet!”

Brett Corbett, tyre technician and painter

While Corbett became involved with cars through his father, it’s a different story to most – his dad was a panelbeater and Corbett completed his painting apprenticeship with him.

“I worked with Holden Special Vehicles for 11 years and fell into motor racing from there, becoming the painter for the Kelly Racing team for the last three years,” he said. “And I haven’t looked back from motor racing – I’ve loved it.”

It’s the competitive side of the racing the 33-year old finds exciting and in terms of personal highlights, it’s not the results but seeing the different styles and liveries on-track.

“We had a few changes with Pepsi Max through those years. Designing a few different cars, painting them and making them look quite good before they go out on the track – obviously sometimes they get caught up in a bit of action – but that’s my highlight personally.”

He conceded a Championship would be special, but isn’t something he has yet been a part of.

Nickname: "Corby. I’ve had mine my whole life obviously, with the surname ‘Corbett’.”

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