Nissan ‘nowhere near’ fuel economy target

Michael Caruso and Dean Fiore salvaged ninth on Sunday at the Gold Coast 600

Michael Caruso and Dean Fiore salvaged ninth on Sunday at the Gold Coast 600

Nissan Motorsport owner Todd Kelly says his team still has significant work to do on fuel economy after its thirsty engines ended a shot at a Castrol Gold Coast 600 podium for Michael Caruso.

The #23 Altima of Caruso and Dean Fiore ultimately finished ninth after being forced into a three-stop strategy to avoid excessive fuel saving in the final third of Race 23.

Todd Kelly’s Altima that he shared with Matt Campbell and the Dale Wood/David Russell entry also had to bail out of the preferred two-stop strategy.

The Rick Kelly/Russell Ingall Nissan meanwhile made it home without a third stop in 17th.

Having shown impressive pace, the 33-year-old Caruso was left frustrated that his podium hopes evaporated through no fault of his own.

Co-driver Fiore had been running in the top five when he handed over to Caruso mid-race.

“Unfortunately our fuel economy has hurt us once again and it is a similar situation to Bathurst,” Caruso told Speedcafe.com.

“We were in a position where we couldn’t make it to the end, or if we did we would have to save fuel, which would have put us back where Rick Kelly was.

“It is what it is. The car is fast and we were in a position to have a crack at a podium, so it is a bit disappointing to let that go.

“It is not something I can control. We can see all the Holdens and Fords can do it quite easily relative to us so there is a bit of work for us to do.

“The speed is there, that is the main thing and we have been in a position to challenge for respectable results. Once we sort that (fuel economy) out we can start bringing home some trophies.”

The issue came a year after Rick Kelly produced a marathon 48 lap final stint to take a second place finish in the Sunday Gold Coast encounter.

Although fuel economy can be greatly influenced by engine mapping, Todd Kelly says his team needs to focus on improving the economy of its engines.

“We are not where the people who have good economy are at,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.

“We are not anywhere near it at the moment.

“We are certainly putting an emphasis on it but we have always struggled with this engine with regard to the economy.

“It (improving economy) is not going to be an easy task.”

The next Supercars event at Pukekohe is the only meeting of the season not to include refuelling under its four 100km sprint race format.

Economy will come back into the frame for the season-ending Sydney 500, held over two 250km legs.

Caruso, meanwhile, will return to the cockpit this weekend when he swaps his Altima Supercar for a GT-R GT3 to contest the penultimate round of the Australian Endurance Championship at Hampton Downs in New Zealand.

The two-time Supercars race winner will race the GT-R for the first time alongside Australian GT Academy winner Matt Simmons, who has driven a version of the car in the Blancpain Endurance Series this year.

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