The Nissan Motorsport built Altima of Jack Le Brocq has won Sunday's Super2 race at the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint, claiming Nissan’s first win in the second tier Supercar Championship.
Following from yesterday’s 2nd placed result, Le Brocq started from the front row and took the lead mid-race with a pass on Todd Hazelwood. The Super2 Championship (second tier Supercars category) currently features two Altimas run by MW Motorsport. With Le Brocq contesting the season in Todd Kelly’s old chassis, Nissan Motorsport is excited with the experience Le Brocq will bring to the team when he and Kelly pair up for the Pirtek Endurance Cup later this year.
Things were a little more challenging in this afternoon’s main-game Supercars Championship event.
Today was not only Simona De Silvestro’s first full wet race in Supercars, but it will also go in the record books for featuring her first lap leading the field. The #78 Team Harvey Norman driver began today’s event from 20th on the grid and drove a clean race to inherit the lead as the first pit stop window opened. Despite the changeable conditions and treacherously narrow dry line, after 84 laps De Silvestro lead home the Nissan squad by crossing the line in 15th place.
Todd Kelly had qualified inside the Top 10 for today’s 200km race and looked set to take advantage of the changeable conditions. However, mid-race contact from Shane Van Gisbergen saw Kelly spin and lose a number of positions. Having spent the remainder of the afternoon fighting back to just outside the Top 10, Kelly was again the victim of contact at the hairpin - this time with Nick Percat. The resulting steering damage speared the #7 carsales Altima in the sand trap with 3 laps to go. Kelly was extracted and finished in 18th, concluding a dramatic afternoon of racing.
Michael Caruso was in a hurry to move up from his 13th place grid position. But when James Moffat lost it at the hairpin, it was the #23 Nissan NISMO driver that was the innocent bystander. The resulting contact damaged Caruso’s steering, making it difficult to turn left. At the circuit with a number of challenging left-hand corners, Caruso was forced to make an early pit stop. After losing a lap to the leaders, Caruso’s main goal was to greet the chequered flag - which he did in 16th position.
Rick Kelly was forced to watch today’s race from the garages, following yesterday's massive incident that all but destroyed the team’s #15 Sengled Racing Altima. Kelly will now run the team’s spare chassis for the next round of the Championship at Phillip Island. When work resumes tomorrow Chassis 006 will be reviewed by the team and either revived or retired.
The next round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is the WD-40 Phillip Island 500. The fast and flowing corners should suit the Altima, so the team is very keen to start looking ahead.
Jack Le Brocq - #28 GoGetta Racing (Super2)
"We made a few changes overnight to try and sort it out the car in the wet conditions. It was an exciting race. I'm glad we were able to get the pass done in the middle of the race. This is a great result for us and great to get the first win for Nissan in the Super2 Championship. Hopefully, this can kick-start our year. Now we’ll aim to get a few more wins at Phillip Island. I didn’t think we’d get a win here this weekend. Since the Altima really suits Phillip Island, I’m really looking forward to heading down there and hopefully getting a few more wins on the board.”
Simona De Silvestro - #78 Team Harvey Norman
“This weekend was definitely interesting for us. This was the first time we had to deal with wet conditions and changing conditions in the race. The positive of the weekend is that we learned a whole lot because there are so many things that happen during changeable conditions. The first stint wasn’t too good, and then we improved as the race went on. We just need to find a bit more speed to get by some people. So that’s what we’ll be working on.”
“I’ve watched MotoGP at Phillip Island and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a very fast and flowing circuit, so it should be a lot of fun.”
Michael Caruso - #23 Nissan NISMO
“Unfortunately, the contact down at the hairpin resulted in the car receiving substantial damage and then making it very hard to turn left. At this place, in particular, turning left is a bit of a big deal. That resulted in the car being very difficult to drive and unfortunately, it put us down the back. I’m disappointed for the boys because we needed to have a better result than that. I’m happy to forget this weekend existed.”
“We need to get on with it and there’s plenty of work to be done at the workshop. Phillip Island suits our car a little better, so it’s the right place for us to bounce back.
Todd Kelly - #7 carsales Racing
I got pummeled a bit there. I got turned around from a reasonably good position, which was the first problem. Things were still okay to try and gather it up from there. With about 15 laps to go, we discovered a really bad vibration in the car. We isolated it to a particular gear. I was in a fair bit of trouble just trying to get home. I was just trying to not spend too much time in that gear - which was an important gear around here. Then I got clobbered by Percat at the hairpin and broke something at the front. We should have been well inside the Top 10, but unfortunately missed out on that.
"Phillip Island is one of the best tracks to drive around. It’s completely different to Symmons. It’s a shame, it was going to be a tough weekend for us, but because it rained we were able to come back a little bit. But we didn’t capitalise on that this weekend. It doesn’t matter what gets dished out at Phillip Island, I’m still really looking forward to it.”
Rick Kelly - #15 Sengled Racing
"This was the first race I had missed since 2002. Naturally, you want to take part in every race, because that’s what we do. You want to get out there and race everyone. It was a difficult weekend for us in general, and today it was a difficult race for everyone. There was only one dry line which made passing tough, and a bit of strategy at play as cars went off. This is an exciting sport to watch, there’s no doubt about that. Listening to the cars roar around was the most different thing for me today. Inside the car sounds very different to watching alongside the fence and hearing the big muscle V8’s hustle around the track. It is a pretty cool and exciting sport.”
"I’m really keen to get back in the car after missing a race. I want to get back in and try and gather some points up and hustle our way back to the front. Phillip Island on the Sunday last year was a tough one for us. We didn't have the pace and now that we know why, so I’m keen to write that wrong."