Despite three of the teams’s four cars not finishing the final race at the Winton 360, Nissan Motorsport’s V8 Supercars are back on track at the team’s ride day at Calder Park today.
Rick Kelly’s Jack Daniel’s Racing Altima suffered the most damage after the final race at Winton – the right rear wheel was torn out, which bent the rear suspension mounting points, after wheel to wheel contact with Mark Winterbottom’s Pepsi Max FPR Falcon. But Todd Kelly’s and Michael Caruso’s damages were mainly cosmetic.
“It was cut out, repaired and resprayed by Monday evening,” Kelly said.
“It was my mistake on track and I am appreciative of the guys for how they jumped on it.
“Mine was the worst. The others were mostly superficial, but that sort of thing puts us behind the eight-ball because we’re developing bits on the car at the same time. Damage like that is not what you’re after.”
While Kelly described Winterbottom’s driving as aggressive, he admitted fault for the contact without being prompted. The incident was reviewed by the Stewards, but there was deemed to be no breach of the rules.
“Frosty gave me a fairly decent touch up at turn three and a fair whack from behind into four. He pushed me quite wide, enough to get next to me – but he got too close, rubbed against me and it ended my race. As he backed off, I squeezed him, and it grabbed my rear tyre.
“The contact itself was my fault, no doubt about it, but the nonsense that put us in that position was his aggression.”
Kelly’s car speared off the track, but he was just trying to work out how to keep racing.
“I was grabbing gears as I was spinning to work out where to get back on the track and get on with it. But that wasn’t the case with that amount of damage.
“It was an unfortunate incident – for sure I didn’t give Frosty enough space but generally you can rub up, but his car was decelerating and his rear wheel and mine got together while the were rotating.”
While Winterbottom finished the race, his car was also damaged. Todd Kelly appeared to have had contact with Jamie Whincup early in the race, and Caruso said he had been “Lowndesed” on the last lap – the other Red Bull Racing Australia pilot Craig Lowndes having turned him around. Lowndes was docked 25 Championship points for his efforts.
Prior to the Winton 360, both Rick and Todd had suggested their “neighbours” in the Norton cars could be the first to take a win in the Nissans – and were correct.
“That’s the exciting thing as a race team – we’ve built four really solid entries. It could be any one of us on any particular day.”
While 10 teams will test this week, the Nissans’ track time is limited to the ride day, though all cars are running and co-drivers Karl Reindler (Kelly) and Taz Douglas (Moffat) will get more time behind the wheel. Nissan Motorsport last tested the week prior to Winton.
“We run the cars as per the last race meeting, to finish off on the oldest rubber (on the ride day),” Kelly explained. “We don’t change anything, just put in the passenger seat, go there and the biggest thing to keep an eye on is mileage.”
Kelly is currently 14th in the Championship standings, one position below fellow Nissan driver James Moffat.