Today’s Qualfying and race formats are different to yesterday’s, withtwo 15-minute sessions to qualify for two 100km races. However, yesterday’sQualifying was edge of the seat stuff after a red flag right near the end ofthe session.
One of the drivers it caught out was MichaelCaruso, who went out on his first lap just when the incident happened– meaning he hadn’t recorded a time, with just over two minutes on theQualifying clock.
The plan for the Norton 360 Nissan Altima was tosave tyres – rather than burning them through the session, treat it morelike a shootout and go for a great lap at the end of Qualifying.
Caruso did manage to get three laps on the board, but theunusual take didn’t seem to end up in his favour – he started the race in position 25(of 28 cars). Unfortunately for the team, two of the other three Nissansstarted even further down the grid, with Rick and Todd Kelly filling the finalrow.
Caruso admitted the red flag did catch him out.
“Unfortunately our strategy was to only use oneset of tyres and the way it played out, I started and got half way through mylap and the red flag came out,” Caruso said after yesterday’s Qualifyingsession.
“Ultimately I didn’t get the most out of thetyres. Does (starting in position 25) represent how quick we are – I don’tthink so.”
Caruso didn’t believe tyre allocation was tight,but was just cautious of the nature of the abrasive circuit.
“This circuit is very hard on the tyre, that’swhy we opted to do that… so it really comes down to different tracks requiring adifferent approach and I guess we’ll have to wait until after today to see ifwe’re on a roll.”
And while it may have seemed a gamble afterQualifying, the Norton 360 racer finished in 11th – his best result for theyear. In fact, last 60/60 race he only managed 19th.
To add to the achievement, teammate James Moffatfinished 10th, a great effort in the Altima.
Caruso was able to tear up the field – byhalf time he’d passed seven cars to sit in 18th and achieved the same feat inthe second half to finish one position shy of the top 10.
The result waseven more remarkable given he picked up a nail in his right rear tyre towardsthe end of the race. The tyre survived the race but it was almost flat as hepulled into pitlane at the end of the day.
Caruso stressed the importance of qualifyingwell.
“It’s always going to be an issue (qualifyingdown the back), it’s so close, there’s less than a second covering 28 cars,” hesaid.
“It’s always going to be hard to pass and that’swhere we were hoping to have a brand new set of tyres for the start of thesecond half of the 60/60 race…
“To come11th from back there is a good effort from everyone at Norton 360 Racing.
"The NissanAltima is handling really well, so I can't wait to get into the 100km races.”