Tension at Nissan after team-mates tangle
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Nissan Motorsport team-mates Todd Kelly and Michael Caruso are yet to discuss their heated on-track feud at Phillip Island.
Kelly was heard berating Caruso via his radio amid a series of clashes that deposited the team co-owner off at Turn 4, dropping him two places on the penultimate lap.
The two Altimas had made side-to-side contact on the pit straight earlier in the lap, before again touching panels on the run to Turn 3.
They had been battling for ninth – a position that was gifted to fellow Nissan driver Rick Kelly who had been following the action at close quarters.
Although highly animated in the car, Todd Kelly was reluctant to expand on the incident when approached by Supercars.com in the paddock post-race.
“It happened from the last corner until Honda (Turn 4), where it all ended,” he said.
“About all I know for sure is that I ended up off the track and lost two spots.
“I’ll have to look at it and see if I’ve caused it all or otherwise.
“I was behind Michael in the same situation yesterday and nobody ended up in any agro.”
Kelly had not spoken with Caruso before the fifth-year Nissan driver left the circuit.
“There’s nothing to talk about until I can look at the vision and work out what happened,” said Kelly when asked if he'd discussed the matter with his team-mate.
“But it (discussion about the incident) will be done by (Nissan Motorsport general manager) Scott Sinclair, not between myself and Michael.
“It needs to be done in the right way and that’s for the team manager to sit us both down as drivers, which is what will happen.”
Rick Kelly was asked about the incident in the television broadcast, describing it as a “good, fierce battle”.
“I didn’t want them to disappear, I just wanted to be in front and luckily for me that’s the way it turned out,” said Kelly.
“Look, no-one left the track in that battle. It was a good, fierce battle I’d say. That’s what we want out there, you don’t want to be letting each other go.
“I’m sure they’re a little bit hot under the collar after that, but you know what, that’s what we’re there to do.
“I was just saying to Todd that I wasn’t looking at who was right or wrong, I was just looking where I could put my car.
“We were still doing 280km/h and I wanted to race just like they do. I was just doing the best I could to try and get in front.”
Caruso finished fifth and 10th in the respective Phillip Island races despite being hit by tyre failures in both.
Todd Kelly avoided the tyre drama but still had to overcome a major setback yesterday after being elbowed off the track at Turn 2 on the opening lap.
The Carsales Nissan slid across the wet grass and made heavy side-on contact with the marshal post on the inside of the circuit, but remarkably avoided major damage.
“Not very often you have a miracle but I think that was one of them,” reflected Kelly.
“I hit that thing pretty hard. I thought I was going to hospital at the rate I was approaching it at.
“It was a decent hit but it was amazing how good a job it did at absorbing the energy.
“I wobbled back onto the track just to try to get the thing back to the garage and by some miracle all the wheels were still pointing the right way and it hadn’t broken anything.”