One of the standout performers at the recent V8 Supercars round at Queensland Raceway came from the Nissan stable. The Japanese carmaker showed potentially race-winning pace for the first time this season, leaving the four-car outfit feeling upbeat as the field heads to the next event, the Sydney Motorsport Park 400, in two weeks’ time.

The team’s youngest driver, James Moffat, claimed his first career pole position for Sunday’s feature race and was in contention for victory. While he was ultimately outpaced in the race, the performance could be the shot in the arm for the team, which also saw Michael Caruso run as a challenger for the win in the second race on Saturday until he punted race leader Scott McLaughlin into a spin and earned himself a drive-through penalty.

Also in the mix was Rick Kelly, who finished fifth in Saturday’s opening race after an exciting battle with championship leader Mark Winterbottom.

The results may not ultimately have showed the team’s pace, the factory squad is upbeat about its chances heading into the upcoming round in western Sydney. The track features a number of high-speed corners – like Queensland Raceway – which are better suited to the Nissan Altima.

“Eastern Creek will be interesting because there are a lot more good high-speed corners than there are straights and you come on to the straights with a bit of momentum,” said team owner/driver Todd Kelly.

“The handling of it – when we do a good job of tuning it – is as good as any car out there,” he added. “But until we get the acceleration and straight line speed sorted out we are not going to have the consistency that the car really deserves.”

“Eastern Creek is a track that might suit us based on the style of circuit it is,” Moffat told the official V8 Supercars website.

“We have to go there and be on our game 100 per cent as soon as we roll out of the truck to keep this momentum going. We just have to keep pushing, keep our heads down, keep working as hard as we have been.

“The important thing for us is to understand why the car worked well last weekend and get a good solid understanding of how we tune it going forward so there are a lot more results like that.”

Of the five manufacturers on this year’s grid, the Nissans appear to struggle most in the straight-line speed stakes. The cars’ Nismo-developed VK56DE engines will receive a cylinder head upgrade in time for the endurance rounds kicking off in September, but the major development work on the engine is focused for the 2015 season.

Image via V8 Supercars Championship

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Geoff Burke

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