Clipsal: Friday qualifying report

Rick Kelly fires first shots in V8 Supercar Series March 18 2005 -- Reigning Bathurst champion Rick Kelly has kicked off the 2005 V8 Supercar Championship season with pole at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide today. Kelly, 22, scored the second...

Rick Kelly fires first shots in V8 Supercar Series

March 18 2005 -- Reigning Bathurst champion Rick Kelly has kicked off the 2005 V8 Supercar Championship season with pole at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide today.

Kelly, 22, scored the second pole position of his career from Marcos Ambrose, who will start tomorrow's first leg of the opening round on the front row.

Kelly was the only Holden in the top five, with Steve Ellery, Russell Ingall and Jason Bright tipping out the leading Holden runners.

Mark Skaife's HRT had a tough day, Skaife hitting the wall in qualifying and missing the shootout while team-mate Todd Kelly suffered engine dramas that curtailed his qualifying session.

But all eyes were on Kelly after a turbulent off-season in which the team lost its major sponsor.

"It is the same camp, just different colours," he said. "In Practice two we were the fastest car, and we lost a little bit of speed in qualifying, but then we recovered for the Shootout.

"I've started alongside Marcos on one occasion and he got me, so I'm hoping we'll be all right tomorrow. Marcos gets really good starts, so if we can be in the top three in the opening laps we'll be going well, because who knows what is going to happen with the pitstops.

"I think it is really exciting with these new rules, who is going to do four tyres and who is going to change just two to get some track position? And with the lights on the cars everyone is going to know what is happening, so I think it is great."

Ambrose was pleased with his second spot on the grid, which is his best ever starting spot at the event which he won last year.

"We didn't get pole, but we did have a good day," Ambrose said after the Shootout. "It is a long, long race, and to be honest pole here is not that important. There are a lot of things that can happen tomorrow."

Steve Ellery was pleased with his third on the grid, his best performance in a Top 10 Shootout to date, after fighting some inner demons earlier in the day.

"This is my best every qualifying, and it shows the move to Triple 8 in the off-season has been good," he said. "But, to be honest, it wasn't that easy for me today, the car is a lot different to what I am used to, so I needed to build some confidence.

"Once I got my head around it, the speed was there. So we'll go into the race and give it a real hard go from here."

Russell Ingall was happy with his new Falcon. "It is a great car, it's very responsive and it does all the things we want when we need it.

"There's no secret that I have never been that good at Shootouts, and we've closed the gap a bit to Marcos, which is good for us because it means we can start the races further up the grid."

Jason Bright left his run into the Shootout to the very last minute after a troubled run with traffic during the 20 minutes qualifying session, and says he is settled into his new team well.

"We had a good qualifying at the Grand Prix, but then we had a few problems in the races which we've been able to rectify," he said. "The car is responding to changes, but two half hour practice sessions is hard for a new driver and a new team."

Tomorrow's first leg of the Clipsal 500 will be the first race of the 2005 season, and will test a series of new rules that impact pitstops and racing - the race starts 2pm.

-avesco-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Jason Bright , Russell Ingall , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Todd Kelly