09 OCT 2017
Top-10 and promise from Bathurst
Nissan Motorsport has finished the dramatic 2017 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with a pair of Top 10 finishes and plenty of promise for the remainder of the year.
Michael Caruso and Dean Fiore led home to Nissan team, as the #23 Nissan NISMO duo crossed the line in an impressive 6th. When the BIG4 liveried Altima lined up on the grid in 13th, rain began to fall onto the circuit - and it would then stay for most of the day. Dealing with a failed windscreen wiper as well as being forced to double stack behind Car 78, Caruso and Fiore worked hard to battle their way up the order. The 6th placed result is the combination's best finish at Bathurst.
The #20 carsales Racing entry of Todd Kelly and Jack Le Brocq fought back from being a lap down to remarkably finish just behind their teammates in 7th. Starting his 20th Bathurst 1000, Kelly had to contend with a difficult car in the day's early wet conditions. Once the track dried however, the Altima came alive. Both Le Brocq and Kelly stayed out of trouble and were able to re-join the lead lap in the closing stages. With good rubber and plenty of fuel, Kelly charged home to ensure his second decade of racing at Bathurst was entered in style.
Rick Kelly and David Wall had shown strong pace all day in the #15 Sengled Racing Altima. However, a brave move on Lap 134 ultimately decided their afternoon. Late in the race, a dry line was beginning to appear on the track, and as Car 15 entered the fastest corner on the circuit side-by-side with Cam Waters, Kelly slid wide and into the sand trap. After being pulled out, he was able to continue and recorded a 13th place finish. Ultimately, it was a very promising afternoon with little reward for the two-time Bathurst winner.
Simona De Silvestro proved today that she is capable of racing hard in the treacherous conditions provided by Mount Panorama. The #78 Team Harvey Norman driver started from 23rd on the grid, and by the mid-race, De Silvesto and co-driver David Russell were running as the leading Nissan. Heading into the final 7 laps of the 161-lap event, De Silvestro made contact with the wall at the final turn. Car 78's day was done. While a Top 8 finishing position had been on the cards, De Silvestro certainly made plenty of people sit up and take notice.
The whole team was super impressive in such challenging conditions this weekend. The mechanics completed nearly 30 pit stops throughout the race, as the engineers tried out some exciting strategies. Bathurst never fails to disappoint. We'll be back bigger and better in 2018.
BATHURST 1000 RESULT
6th - Michael Caruso/Dean Fiore - #23 Nissan NISMO
7th - Todd Kelly/Jack Le Brocq - #20 carsales Racing
13th - Rick Kelly/David Wall - #15 Sengled Racing
DNF - Simona De Silvestro/David Russell - #78 Team Harvey Norman
Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO
"From the start of the race we were forced to just run out the tanks. Early on we lost our wiper and that made things really challenging. Deano did a fantastic job in such difficult conditions. We were coming 15th and tried an alternative strategy, which we were looking really good with. We risked it and things were looking great. But a few safety cars put everyone back on the same strategy. So to finish 6th is really rewarding, having been around the Top 10 for most of the weekend. Stellar effort from the entire garage this weekend too. There were so many hands helping each other out. It was great to see."
Dean Fiore - #23 Nissan NISMO
"The first two stints for me were pretty crazy. The concentration required in the full wet around here is extraordinary. Anyone who thinks you need to concentrate in a board room or something similar, that has nothing on Bathurst in the full wet. The idea in those conditions was to give it to Michael without a scratch, and that's what we did. Caruse then drove the wheels off it and got us a great result."
Todd Kelly - #20 carsales Racing
"It was a hard day today. It was the worst day ever right up until the end. Early on we were a lap down and missed out on getting it back a few times. The car was very average in the wet and I wasn't enjoying it at all. Right at the end though, it dried out and the car came alive. Then we got our lap back and it was a good day. I would never have thought we'd finish 7th from where we were earlier in the afternoon. So I'm pretty happy with my 20th Bathurst."
Jack Le Brocq - #20 carsales Racing
"It's a pretty good result, considering where we were in the middle of the day. We were pretty unlucky to go a lap down. Todd drove really well to get to 7th. We didn't have a strong car when the rain was really heavy, but it improved when the track dried. In my last stint, we had top 6 pace and Todd finished it off really well."
Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing
"We had our ups and downs all day. We had a good crack at it, that's for sure. The thing that bought us undone was getting stuck in the sand trap. I got a good run on Cam and we got slightly in front of him. Caruso gave me a bit of a nudge from behind. That gave me enough momentum to sneak my nose ahead. It put me on the wet line in the Chase. I didn't know what was going to happen. I thought he might've backed out, but he didn't. He had every right to not back out. I didn't want to jam the brakes on because I didn't know where Caruso or Waters were by that point. It was a pretty hairy moment. There was no slowing down until right near the sand trap. We were very lucky to finish where we did. But at least we didn't die wondering."
David Wall - #15 Sengled Racing
"Looking at the end result, we would have been very shiny had we avoided the drama. We tried to choose out battles as we went today, and the car got better and better. We slowly tuned things up as we went. Rick had a go and really, he had to have a go. That was our chance to get Waters. It's just a shame that it didn't come off. That's the way it goes. That's Bathurst. Hopefully it's a bit kinder to us next time."
Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman
"It was good to show what we're capable of. But I messed up and that's pretty hard to get over. The guys worked hard all weekend and put me in that position. So it's frustraing to end the weekend with a silly mistake. The team made some pretty good calls as well as some pretty hairy calls when it was wet. There haven't been many races in the wet this year, but around this place it becomes even more of a handful. Things change so quickly out there and driving on slicks was a whole new challenge. I learned a lot and really enjoyed driving with David."
David Russell - #78 Team Harvey Norman
"It was a good show of speed from us. It was difficult conditions today and that's what we needed. There were a lot of fast cars in a dry set up, so to have the rain throw a spanner in the works really helped us. I'm really happy with my stints and the team did a great job the whole weekend. Roll on Gold Coast."