Rick Kelly has finished as the highest Nissan Motorsport driver in the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship – the return year for Nissan to top-level Australian touring car racing. Kelly brought home his #15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima in 18th place in Sydney on Sunday, the final race of this year’s competitive championship.
Kelly was the most consistent of the Nissan Altima drivers in 2013, taking 12 top 10 results across the course of the season and finishing inside the top half of the field. It was the best overall result of any of the new manufacturers in this year’s title.
Rick finished one place behind Jack Daniel’s Racing teammate Todd Kelly, who finished the year in 25th overall. Norton Nissan driver Michael Caruso looked like he was best the best of the Altimas in the last race, but fuel strategy cost him a real shot at a top result. He ended up shadowing the Jack Daniel’s entries in 19th place. Caruso finished 23rd overall in this year’s championship. Caruso’s Norton teammate James Moffat had a disappointing final race of 2013, failing to finish due to a driveline issue. After a competitive start to the season, including his history-making win at Winton in August, Moffat finished the year in 18th overall.
The V8 Supercars Championship heads into its off-season now, but it is just a 68 day break before the cars hit the track at Sydney Motorsports Park for the 2014 pre-season test day on 15 February 15 in Sydney, New South Wales.
Michael Caruso – #36 Norton Nissan Altima:
“We were running really well for the majority of the race, so it’s a real shame to finish down in 19th,” said Michael Caruso. “The fuel burn on the Altima is still not as good as our rivals, but we know that and we were always venerable. “We’ve got another big off-season, because we know we have some big gains to make and we know we have to launch into 2014 bigger and better.”
James Moffat – #360 Norton Nissan Altima:
“A driveline related problem put us out today. I felt like I had a problem four or five laps prior to that. It was still shifting OK, but there was a strange noise after each shift,” said James Moffat. “It’s very disappointing to end the season like that. We didn’t have a quick car as it was and I didn’t have much to fight with. “It’s not good to have a Norton car finish on the sidelines again. It’s probably happened too many times in the back half of this season and it’s definitely something we need to improve on. “We’ve had some get highs this year, including our win at Winton, so I need to thank Norton, Toshiba, Steadfast and Nissan for their fantastic support. I have full confidence that 2014 will be a much stronger year for us.”
Rick Kelly – #15 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima:
“It was a difficult day today, the temperature was a bit higher, so it was more challenging in the car, but it was still a good race and I’m happy I brought the car home,” said Rick Kelly. “I followed big brother home towards the end and he just had a bit too much for us to try and sneak by, so he did a really good job. “It’s been an interesting year and for me. I’ve been in the category for well over 10 years, and it was the biggest learning year that we’ve ever had as far as where we are with the car, and what we need to do to get it towards the front. “We’ve had some highs, and we’ve had some lows, but I think we’ve punched above our weight a lot of the time with team work and a solid package, and a car that was good on days, but also tough on days with the straight line speed. “When you look at the championship, there are a lot of cars behind that probably had more speed than us, so you have to be happy with that and keep focused on next year and where we can improve.”
Todd Kelly – #7 Jack Daniel’s Nissan Altima:
“That was a tough race out there and a lot hotter than yesterday, the set of tires I had in the middle stint felt really bad and I was all over the place, but the last set of tires felt like they griped up a lot more,” said Todd Kelly. “It’s was a tough day, as usual I ended up with a few other Nissans around towards the end, but it was good to come home and have all four cars nice and straight.”If it wasn’t for a little bit of a fuel economy deficiency and the way those safety cars fell, we could have been a lot further up and we certainly had the pace to be further up than where we finished, so we’ll improve that for next year and have another go. “You’re always disappointed unless you win, which we only had one go at this year, but all in all it was here that we rolled the race car out for the very first time, 12 months ago, and that’s gone pretty quick.
“When you look back at how much development we’ve done and how much we’ve improved the car, it’s been a really good year. We’re probably 80 percent of the way there, and with the engine and aero improvements over the break, I think next season will be a solid year for us.”