Phillip Island 500 produced some awesome milestones
Phillip Island is home to the best race track in Australia. With it’s fast, slick track, permanent facilities, and wide open spaces, it’s no wonder fans always enjoy a great weekend out. If you were at last year’s WD-500, you may remember Dunlop’s trail of blown tires, Chaz’s fine after “excessive burnouts”, and an insane number of penalties. What some fans called a spectacle, was others’ idea of a disaster.
Whilst 2018 had a tonne of fun and action, it was far from the disaster of the 2017 circuit. Saturday’s race saw no safety cars throughout the entire 57 laps. Overall, it was good, clean racing, with the top of the field producing great chasing moves, and beautiful overtakes. Fabian Coulthard had a brilliant day, coming from right at the back of the grid and finishing in 12th position. Scott McLaughlan and Jamie Whincup battled it for the majority of the race while Rick Kelly fended off Craig Lowndes to drive home in the third position.
Rick Kelly began the race with his 500th championship start, a feat only five other drivers have managed to achieve. Whilst Kelly came home in third position, a post-race penalty for Whincup saw the Nissan team given the silver trophy. Last time Kelly was on the podium was Homebush back in 2015. This is a fantastic effort from the Nissan team and another great addition to Kelly’s collection.
I did manage to have a quick chat to Rick early on the Saturday, and he said:
“Yeah things are going well. Car is looking good, we have good pace so we’ll see how we go”
“We’ll see how we go”? Well you certainly did more than that! You showed us some sweet racing and some epic moves. Coming 2nd and 3rd is definitely not just a “see how we go” kind of moment. Funnily enough he didn’t mention it was his 500th race. You’d think you’d be pretty excited, and bursting at the seams if this was your 500th race start. At least that’s what I’d be doing!
It does seem like a big thing to celebrate. Why then doesn’t Rick promote it? Why isn’t it all over the news. One of the guys, Michael, from Nissan mentioned it to me and he responded with:
“Rick’s a very humble guy. He’s out there to have a great time”
I like that! He’s the type of person that is very down to earth and still loves his driving! He’s the kind of guy to get behind his team and celebrate everyone’s achievements, not just his own.
Nissan’s podium finish also makes this a rare Ford-Nissan-Holden podium, with all three factory makers getting the spotlight.
Rick continued his race weekend in style, starting out P4 on the Sunday. He held the lead during the mid term before making his pit spot. His beautiful driving style and good pace kept him at the front of the pack for the race. Coulthard came chasing the Altima during the closing laps as the gap narrowed to a mere second. Kelly managed to hold him off in true form and storm home third. That makes two podium finishes for the Braeside team. Michael Caruso did the team proud too, coming in P5.
Seems like this weekend was a race for the experienced boys with all the older drivers crossing the line with fantastic results. There’s going to be interesting times ahead. Some of these guys were talking about retiring at the end of the season. We might just see them stick around. And then there’s Nissan. 2018 marks the end of Nissan’s factory involvement as the deal is only signed until the end of the year. Many speculate this is their last season, but judging by the performance of the team as a whole this weekend, my guess is that’s all up for discussion.
We’ll just have to wait and see what the cars and drivers decide. In the meantime, keep smashing it team Nissan. They are an amazing testament to what a team can do when you band together.
What do you make of the Phillip Island 500 for 2018? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, or by any other means and I’ll try and respond to all of them.
Happy watching and racing.