Insights with Rick Kelly: Why Asia is important to V8 Supercars

V8 Supercars is set to begin its expansion into Asia next month with a trip to Kuala Lumpur. And according to Nissan driver and Motorsport.com columnist Rick Kelly, it’s a very smart move.

The great thing about the V8 Supercars calendar is that we chase the sun.

There’s nothing better than jumping on a jet and heading off to Darwin, or like this week to Townsville, away from a cold and wet Melbourne winter.

Even better, next year we’ll get to escape a bit further north to Kuala Lumpur to take in the recently announced KL City Grand Prix.

It certainly shows the strength of V8 Supercars. Having big international events wanting us to attend is just massive, although the priority for us has always been to ensure that we have a very strong footprint in Australia.

We do have that at a national level; we travel to all the states around Australia, which is unique for a national sport.

The Asian corridor is a logical next step, and it has a very similar time zone to us, so we can broadcast the racing back to Australia at a time when everyone’s awake. Typically most fans can’t travel to all events, so having friendly broadcast times is important.

There’s certainly a level of international rounds for us that would be too much, but we are well below that at the moment.

New Zealand is very important as well, but I think a couple of flyaway races would be ideal before it would start to take away from what we are doing here in Australia.

Been there, loved that

I had the chance to head to Kuala Lumpur at the start of last year to test the GT3 Nissan GT-R for the first time, and it was a great experience.

I love travelling internationally for racing duties. There’s nothing more exciting that checking out new tracks. I did some laps at the Sepang International Circuit, and then I had half a day spare before my flight home.

I caught a train into the heart of the city and had a look around the Petronas Towers, which is the exact location of this street race.

So it’s going to be passing some pretty spectacular sights, which for a street race is important.

It’s definitely going to be one of those things that you look back on in years to come, because it is going to be an incredible opportunity.

We’ve raced all around the world, and one of the highlights for me in my entire career is having the chance to race a V8 Supercar in a championship round at Austin, Texas. The time zone wasn’t ideal for our Australian audience, and it’s a lot further away, but that was an event that we will never forget.

So many Australians travelled with us over there, whether they were linked to a team, or through a sponsor or business partner, or just a race fan and someone keen to check out a different part of the world.

I think this event will have a similar feel, and a great opportunity introduce our show to a new market.

Meanwhile, in Townsville…

Obviously our aim for the Jack Daniel’s Nissan this weekend at the Castrol Edge Townsville 400 is to maintain our strong recent form.

We’ve been the fastest car in race conditions for the past three events, we have two podiums and one pole, and really, on paper at least, Townsville should play to some of our strengths.

We’re back to the SuperStreet format this weekend, so there will be some differences to the practice session lengths and tyre bank, and the 200 kilometre races on Saturday and Sunday will feature both hard and soft tyres.

Picking the right strategy, not getting stuck in traffic, and optimising the use of the soft tyre will all be important. Being a semi-street circuit, there’s always a strong chance of a safety car, so the boys will have to be on their toes at the engineering desk.

As a team, I feel that we’re really finding our stride, and I couldn’t be happier with how things have developed with my new engineer George Commins.

With the event being shown live on Channel 10, I’ll be back on the microphone, so if you have anything you would like covered, drop me a line through my social channels.

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