V8 Supercars driver Rick Kelly looks back on the two magical years that he and Greg Murphy tamed The Mountain and took home remarkable back-to-back Bathurst 1000 wins.
I count myself incredibly fortunate to have won the Bathurst 1000 twice, with both of them coming in very different circumstances.
However, back before I got to visit the Bathurst podium, my first time on The Mountain in a V8 in 2001 was just extraordinary. It was actually my first ever proper race outside an open-wheeler, and something I will never forget.
The following year was extremely fun as well. I was the lead driver in the Holden Young Lions car with Nathan Pretty. We had a very eventful race, and we just missed out on a podium, finishing fourth.
We ran in third at one stage, we really had a fairly high octane race, and I learned an awful lot.
Those first two years on The Mountain really prepared me well for 2003. Greg Murphy was the lead driver in the Kmart Racing Team, and I had the job of supporting him in the race win.
To get to the end of the day to win it and stand on the podium was just an unbelievable experience; it’s definitely something I will never forget.
To partner with ‘Murph’ in that point of time in that team was incredible. He was very supportive of me in the car, and he actually helped me in the race by getting on the radio and giving me a little bit of coaching to get a bit more pace out of me at times.
To me, that was an impressive thing. For your teammate to chip in and help improve the team’s performance in a race like that was special, and it certainly helped us get that trophy at the end of the day.
The Lap of the Gods
Murph’s pole lap for Bathurst in 2003 was out of this world.
Back in those days you still did the u-turn at Hell Corner and come down the pit lane backwards after your shootout lap.
As Murph came trundling back to the garage, seeing all of the teams come out onto pit lane and clap him was remarkable. It showed what an incredible achievement his 2m06.85s lap was.
You never ever see teams applauding other teams for the job that they do, so to see everyone show respect like that cements how very special the lap was.
It was good to be a part of the team that day and watch it all unfold from close quarters.
As a driver you always compare yourself to your teammate, and in that instance, and at that point in my career there is no doubt that I couldn’t achieve that sort of lap-time.
Looking at the data, everything was on song. The car was fantastic, it was gripped up, the tyres were where they needed to be, and Murph was where he needed to be to be at one with all of the aspects of the car.
It was an incredible moment in Bathurst history.
The 2004 Bathurst 1000 definitely wasn’t as smooth coming into the weekend. The car wasn’t ideal, we were running around positions seventh to ninth earlier in the race.
In ’04 I was more experienced, and I had a bigger role to play in the car. I hopped in when we weren’t in an ideal situation and I had to drive it back to the front of the field. Murph then jumped in and did exactly what he needed to do to get us into the lead and take the win.
They were very different races for me. In 2003 I was in more of a passenger role, but in ’04 it was more of a joint effort with Murph to get the car to where it needed to be, and work together as a team.
In the second year it was good for me to feel like more of a contributor to the win.
It was important from a personal point of view as a driver, you don’t want to be passenger, you want to get in there and have a good go, have a good race, and be a solid part of the team.
2004 was really the start of my career starting to develop into more of a championship contender.
It was an exciting time, especially to have those victories so early in my career, which a lot of it came down to being in the right team at the right time.
It’s something I look back very fondly on.