Nissan Motorsport has confirmed its endurance racing lineup with Norton 360 Racing finalising its co-driver squad for the third manufacturer in the series.
With Jack Daniel’s confirmation of their entries last week, the line up of Rick Kelly/Karl Reindler and Todd Kelly/David Russell has now been completed by the James Moffat/Taz Douglas and Michael Caruso/Daniel Gaunt pairings.
The eight drivers will compete in all three of the endurance races this season, the Sandown 500 (September 13-15), the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 (October 10-13) and the Armor All Gold Coast 600 (October 25-27), and by doing so will be in the running for the new ‘Enduro Cup’, which will be awarded to the highest scoring pair over the three races.
Douglas and Gaunt are currently competing in the Dunlop series and Gaunt also competes full-time in New Zealand’s V8 SuperTourer class with Tasman Motorsport. This means that Gaunt will be racing a Holden, Ford and Nissan all in one season!
Michael Caruso in the #36 Norton 360 Nissan Altima talked about how much he was looking forward to the event.
“I’m really excited to have Dan Gaunt alongside me in the #36 Norton Altima,” said Caruso.
“He has been doing a lot of driving at Sandown and Bathurst over the past few years, and we’re a similar height, so all those little things help in the endurance races. By the time we get to Bathurst, I think we’ll have a really good opportunity. The Altima is handling well, and it seems to enjoy high-speed circuits, so I can’t wait to get to the Mountain and strangle the life out of the car there.”
James Moffat in the #360 Norton 360 Nissan Altima is also looking forward to having Taz Douglas as his racing partner.
“I’m really happy to have Taz with me in the season of endurance. I think he’ll be a really good fit on our side of the garage at Norton 360 Racing – not only for Sandown and Bathurst, but for the Gold Coast as well,” said Moffat.
“Taz and I have been mates for a while now. I was actually his mechanic for the 2005 Victorian Formula Ford Series. We’ve known each other for a long time and I’m sure he’ll fit in.
“Naturally, we want to go as well as we can and it’s fair to say that not many will consider us outright contenders. If we can sneak along, stay out of trouble, we should be able to get some positive results across the three races.”
Douglas echoed his co-driver’s excitement.
“Whenever you can drive for a factory team, it’s exciting, and for me, it’s my first time with a factory V8 team, so it’s a dream come true,” said Douglas, who drove last year for the Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport team.
“It’s also Nissans first time back at Bathurst, so it will be great to be a part of it.”
Douglas also mentioned the Enduro Cup as a positive initiative.
“The Enduro Cup is a new thing year. It’s a good initiative for guys like myself to aspire to get. We get to race at the Gold Coast as well, and I raced there last year, so I think that will hold me in good stead.”
It will be interesting to witness the return of Nissan to the great Mountain this year, the first time since their wins in 1992.