Insights with Rick Kelly: Hunting in Pairs

V8 Supercars’ Season of Endurance is upon us, and Nissan Motorsport driver Rick Kelly says he can’t wait to hand over the keys to co-driver David Russell.

It’s great that we’ve finally arrived at the endurance end of the season, and I get to have a mate ride shotgun for the three biggest races of the year.

David Russell is definitely a great asset to the team; it’s really good to have someone in the car that we’ve had on board for some time – this season is the fifth straight year he will line up in Jack Daniel’s colours.

Generally speaking, when you look up and down pit-lane at who is successful, continuity is the key, not only with drivers but also staff in the team.

Front-running teams tend to have spent a lot of time together, and have worked out how to get the most out of both the car, and each other.

In my opinion, that’s where I think a lot of success comes from.

So for us to have David on board it offers us that continuity. I’m not learning about him, and he’s not learning about me and the team. We’ve already been through that process.

He knows where he fits in, and he does a good job in that area.

Some co-drivers come into the team with a point to prove, and sometimes that can see those guys come unstuck. They go too hard at the wrong time.

David certainly isn’t like that. He comes into the team very level-headed, he’s someone we have a lot of respect for and vice versa.

He’s a real pleasure to have in the team, he knows what we need from him inside the car, and he delivers exactly that.

He doesn’t risk anything. It’s good to have a team player like that, and it allows us to make different calls on strategy from time-to-time and push forward, sometimes where other teams couldn’t.

Match Fit

I think it’s important to have a co-driver in the car who keeps themselves nice and match fit.

When you look at the driver line-up for this year’s enduros, six of the co-drivers who are hopping in the Top 10 cars in the championship currently don’t have a regular start in a full-time series this year.

For us, we’re lucky David races in the Porsche Carrera Cup, and he also races in a lot of GT events, especially overseas.

Jumping in and out of different cars for a driver I think is very good. It puts you outside your comfort zone, and you learn to adapt quickly.

David is a guy that Todd and I, and the whole team, get along with. He’s a guy the team like to spend time with.

It’s a very exciting time being able to share your car, stand on the pit-wall and watch it go around in the race, especially at Sandown where the co-drivers have their own race.

It’s a time of year I really, really enjoy.

A Walk in the Park

Sydney Motorsport Park on the weekend was a case of up, down, and repeat.

It was good to come home with a solid sixth place result in the opening race, our first Top 10 since Hidden Valley. Although it was a struggle with the hard tyres towards the end of the race, and I had to defend off Andre Heimgartner.

Race 2 on the soft tyres was nearly over in the first lap as I was fed off towards the wall in somewhat of a recreation of the Skaife/Ingall incident from the good old days.

Fortunately I didn’t quite wear the fence. I dropped a few spots, and managed to climb back through to finish 12th with some solid car pace.

Sunday was always going to be an interesting one, with the early Safety Car and the eventual arrival of rain.

Initially, when it started pouring, we had a rocket ship and I climbed up into sixth position.

Sadly when it started to dry the conditions weren’t to the liking of our tyre pressures, and we dropped back to 15th at the chequered flag.

Onwards and upwards to Sandown we go!

 

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Rick Kelly , David Russell
Teams Nissan Motorsports
Article type Analysis