Gold Coast: Kelly returns to Holden team

Kelly returns to HRT as team juggles cars prior to Gold Coast Indy The Holden Racing Team has been forced to switch around its racing Commodore fleet for this weekend's Gold Coast Indy event after a panel crunching Bathurst 1000 nearly a...

Kelly returns to HRT as team juggles cars prior to Gold Coast Indy

The Holden Racing Team has been forced to switch around its racing Commodore fleet for this weekend's Gold Coast Indy event after a panel crunching Bathurst 1000 nearly a fortnight ago.

With both of its cars damaged at Mount Panorama in early race incidents, the team has switched around its drivers between its available chassis.

The move will see Mark Skaife return to the Commodore in which he won at Pukekohe and campaigned in the first seven rounds of the series, while Todd Kelly will rejoin the team and drive the car he drove early in the year that was crashed by Jim Richards at Bathurst.

The team's newest car, involved in the opening lap incident with Jack Perkins at Bathurst, simply couldn't be repaired in time to make to the trip to the `concrete canyon' at Surfers Paradise.

With two runner up results in the Sandown and Bathurst events alongside his brother, Kelly is happy to be back in his more familiar red uniform and feels no pressure for the rest of 2006.

"I've just had two race meetings where there was a lot on the line and I needed to make sure I didn't make a mistake for the sake of Rick's championship," Kelly said.

"But now we are back to our normal situation. I'm not in the championship fight so it's a case of aiming at winning races and rounds and letting the rest of them fight it out.

"I'll have to reprogram my brain to make sure I pull into the red team pits and not the black and orange again!"

For Skaife, the heartbreak of Bathurst is in the past and the fivetime champion is doing what he does best ­ focusing on the next task at hand.

The only track on the current V8 Supercar calendar where he is yet to score a win (besides Bahrain which makes its debut in November), the Gold Coast street track is similar to Bathurst in that it can both reward and punish easily and Skaife is fired up to bounce back.

"There's no doubt that Bathurst will sting for a while but the Indy event is now our focus," Skaife said. "The team has worked incredibly hard to turn things around, repair one car and get the other car in the workshop ready to take to the track.

"They are the true unsung heroes of V8 Supercar racing. The time and dedication it takes to do a job well is one thing but our guys at HRT take it to a whole new level, particularly over the last week or so.

"A result like the one at Bathurst can be so demoralising but you've got to be able to regroup and prepare yourself for the next race meeting, and everyone has done that brilliantly.

"This weekend's event is one that has its own dangers. The walls are very close and if you're on the edge you can be rewarded with a fast lap time just as much as you could end up crashed in the fence.

"It's a fine line of controlled aggression and patience. There are plenty of kerbs to throw the car at as well through the chicanes, so making the car react well to them is critical."

Skaife is the current qualifying lap record holder on the 4.47 kilometre temporary street circuit and finished third last year.

Kelly, meanwhile, sat on the pole position in 2003 during his first year with HRT.

Practice will begin on the Gold Coast on Friday with one race on Saturday and two on Sunday.

-credit: hrt

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Mark Skaife , Todd Kelly , Jack Perkins
Teams Holden Racing Team