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KELLY RACING LEND TENNIS SMARTS FOR OPTIMUM FITNESS

Kelly Racing's drivers will push their fitness to the next level in 2011 with the aid of Australian tennis fitness coach Damian Prasad.

Prasad is the fitness coach to ATP World Tour professional Thiemo de Bakker, ranked 46th in the world and one of the young, up and coming stars of the Men's Tour.

As well as travelling the world with de Bakker, Prasad is the fitness coach to Kelly Racing's drivers and pit crews, commencing his third year with the team in 2011.

Drivers Rick Kelly and David Reynolds were to hit with Prasad and de Bakker today, but torrential rain in Melbourne this morning forced them to duck for cover on Margaret Court Arena.

Rick Kelly admitted that he was relieved in one sense when heavy rain descended on the court surface.

"I think it was a positive for me because my tennis skills are not that good," said Kelly.

"I really enjoy having a hit and I think it's great training for motorsport but I think I would have come away with a few bruises from where Thiemo would have fired a few balls into me.

"But it was awesome just meeting Thiemo and walking around Melbourne Park and seeing all the best tennis players in the world. We even got into Rod Laver Arena and saw Venus Williams training."

Reynolds on the other hand is keen tennis player, using the game as part of his rigorous fitness regime that also includes cycling and triathlon competition.

"I love tennis, love watching it and playing it," said Reynolds.

"It's a real sport in that it's a real battle out there. It's such tough conditions for the players sometimes that you see the players fade away and then come back.

"It's a real street fight out there and it is probably one of the few sports that is actually like that."

Kelly said that Prasad is a vital part of Kelly Racing's assault on the V8 Supercars Championship.

"Damian for us is an exceptional trainer and he has brought a lot to the team over the past couple of years," said Kelly.

"We are looking forward to working with him again in the future and it shows today the level his knowledge is at in that he trains one of the top 50 players in the world."

Prasad says that the time is right for Kelly Racing's drivers to take their fitness to the next level, with major effort going into that area of the team over the off-season.

"We have already been speaking over the off-season, working on the 2011 season to make sure we have the right strategy in terms of pre-season preparation, maintenance during the season, having the right amount of rest and also building up fitness throughout the year," said Prasad.

"So it really comes down to having a periodised plan."

Prasad said that he is able to balance the two roles in both the ATP World Tour with de Bakker and the V8 Supercars Championship with Kelly Racing, with the team's drivers able to communicate with him constantly and stick to their training programs.

"We have ways of monitoring it," said Prasad.

"They are very proactive in terms of doing their own physical work and understanding their bodies and how it will help them, for example, late in a race.

"All credit to them. I think they are really one of the first teams to really delve into the sports science area and looking for ways to have an edge over their opponents.

"It's pretty hectic and it will be pretty interesting this year because I have taken on more V8 events and more training days at the workshop.

"I wouldn't have it any other way. It's something Todd and Rick really want to implement and I'm happy to deliver that. It's going to be a busy year but I'm looking forward to mixing both and helping out the team."

Prasad says the addition of Reynolds to the four-car squad will push the whole team forwards in terms of fitness.

"It's good to have Dave onboard," said Prasad.

"He is big on the fitness and triathlons so it's going to be great to work with him.

"He is going to raise the bar and is going to give the guys some stiff competition in the gym, so it's really healthy to have someone like him join the team."

de Bakker says that he has heard lots about the V8 Supercars Championship from Prasad and likes to keep up to date with the progress of Kelly Racing.

"I ask him sometimes, we are together a lot and I like racing as well so I like to keep up to date," said de Bakker.

"It's nice to hear how the team is going and I hope Kelly Racing has a good 2011."

de Bakker admitted that he would like to get the opportunity to attend a V8 Supercars race, or even get a ride in one of the Kelly Racing Commodores, in the future.

"I would love to, I'm really curious about how it works, how fast they go," said de Bakker.

"I've heard some stories about how late they brake and I think it's just sick and I'd love to do it."

Reynolds and de Bakker share many similarities as rising stars in their respective sports. In 2011 both are entering their second full season at the top flight of their chosen professions.

Reynolds, 25, won the 2004 Australian Formula Ford Championship and the 2007 Australian Carrera Cup, now touted as one of the future stars of V8 Supercars as he enters his second full season in the championship in 2011 with Kelly Racing.

de Bakker, 22, finished 2006 as the Number One male junior player in the world and won the Boys Singles Title at Wimbledon that same year. The Dutchman has been ranked in the Top 100 since October 2010 and in the Top 50 since May last year.

He also shares Reynolds need for speed, with de Bakker enjoying karting between training sessions. Both Kelly and Reynolds learned their craft racing karts while growing up in Mildura, Victoria and Albury, New South Wales respectively.

de Bakker will play 12th seeded Frenchman Gael Monfris in the first round of the 2011 Australian Open next week.

Kelly Racing will have its first hitout for 2011 at the first official test day of the season at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney, New South Wales on Saturday January 29th.

-source: kelly racing

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Series V8SUPERCARS