Nissan Motorsport knuckles down for next step
New pit booms for Nissan Motorsport at Hidden Valley are a sign of the squad’s focus on improving vital processes as it fights to become a consistent front-running contender.
Having spent the last three seasons playing catch-up with its engine package, owner/driver Rick Kelly is confident that his cars can now be competitive at any circuit.
Backing up the former champion’s claim, Altimas have scored at least one top six finish at each of the five events held so far this year.
Satisfied with the base package, Kelly says that the team’s focus is now firmly on refining areas that had been neglected while resources were focussed on the engine program.
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Kelly finished both Friday practice sessions in the top two, heightening expectations that he can repeat his pole position winning effort at Hidden Valley last year.
“We’ve harped on about it but literally all our resources were pooled into the engine,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.
“Now that’s done we’re spreading the resources into the other areas that are important.
“The pitstops are definitely one of those, as well as the focus on the processes that the engineers go through on the race weekends.
“And for a driver, it’s the in-laps, the out-laps, the starts… it’s about executing all of those things every time.
“You always want to do those things well but it’s really under the microscope now for us.
“They’re the things that are stopping us getting podiums all the time.”
The new pit booms are the work of crew chief Neil Price, who joined the team this season following a stint on Nissan’s ill-fated LMP1 program.
They feature a prominent clock, which was previously located in the garage, and a series of wheel gun lights that provide the car controller with full knowledge of how the stop is unfolding.
“Instead of three or four people performing a whole range of functions there’s really only one guy controlling everything now,” the team’s general manager Scott Sinclair explained.
“It’s a lot more user friendly and we think it’ll give us a small gain in performance as well as allowing us to more efficiently deal with issues when they arise.
“It was a big job doing the two booms but this is just one area that we wanted to tighten up and we’ve still got a few to go.”
The team’s season is taking place amid ongoing uncertainty over the future of its factory Nissan contract, with the Japanese firm yet to commit beyond this year.
“I think that we’ve done all that we can and our focus now is to get the results on the track,” said Kelly when asked of the situation.
“If we come out every weekend and we’re in the top four or five it puts us in the best position.
“Rather than knock on their door every 10 minutes we’re focussed on doing our job the best we can.”