Round 13 SandownV8 Ultimate, VIC
30 November 2 December, 2001

Friday, 5.30pm: Todd Kelly led a Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) domination of provisional qualifying in the final round of the 2001 Shell Championship Series at Victoria's Sandown Raceway, the second time this season he has taken provisional pole.

The Mildura driver's lap time of 1:11.56 around the 3.1km circuit gave his Kmart Commodore the top spot from Craig Lowndes in the Gibson Falcon, earning him the right to go out last in tomorrow's cut throat top 15 shootout for pole.

The next three positions were filled by Kelly's TWR stablemates. Greg Murphy was third fastest in the second Kmart car and the HRT pair of Mark Skaife and Jason Bright were fourth and fifth respectively.

The Kmart team was almost lost in the pre-season merry-go-round that saw the old set-up make way to start Lowndes' new Ford team, but a rescue package by TWR gave Kelly his first full year in V8 Supercars and threw a lifeline to Murphy.

It has led to the late season success that has seen the team combine for podium finishes in the last four Shell Series rounds, including Murphy's clean sweep of the last round in New Zealand.

"The start of the year was spent getting the new team together and we weren't up to matching with an established unit like HRT but we have come a long way this year and Greg and I are finishing the year well," said Kelly.

Lowndes' strong result was a welcome return to form after having battled through the middle of the year with his new team.

"We started on the podium at Phillip Island, nothing since, and now we are looking to finish off strong but the top 15 could be pretty mixed up in the shootout," he said. "It would be good to finish off strong to give us a springboard to 2002."

Murphy was full of praise for his young teammate.

"Todd did an awesome job today and all credit to him. We'll look to get both Kmart cars on the podium on Sunday," he said.

Skaife comes to Sandown with the Shell Series title safely in his grasp and, as he said, "everything to gain and nothing to lose." He had promised fans he would be out to have some fun at this round, but wasn't quite whooping it up just yet.

"I'm not really having fun yet. There are some changes we would like to make to the car and then, hopefully we can get stuck in to the fun stuff on the weekend."

Bright is out to steal second place from Russell Ingall this weekend to set up a 1-2 HRT finish in the Championship and was optimistic he could do it with the help of his TWR friends.

"The TWR cars are working very well at the moment and it is a pleasure to be behind the wheel of it," he said. "We just have to get Lowndesy out of the way and we will be on track for a full HRT podium."

Last year's Sandown hero, Paul Radisich had problems in morning practice before charging back up the timesheets to finish in sixth place in his Shell Helix Falcon. Veteran Larry Perkins showed he had plenty of speed left in him to put his Castrol Commodore in seventh, one spot higher than his younger teammate, Ingall.

Steven Richards was ninth fastest in his last drive for the Ford Tickford team while Marcos Ambrose was tenth in the Pirtek Falcon.

David Besnard (Caltex Ford), Simon Wills (CAT Ford), Paul Morris (Big Kev Holden), Steve Ellery (Super Cheap Ford) and Glenn Seton (FTR Ford) round out the top 15 for tomorrow's one lap run-off for pole.

Following the shootout at 10.05am, the first of the three 150km races will be run at 2pm. Races two and three will be run on Sunday. <pre> Provisional Top Fifteen:

Pos.   Driver           Team                            Car             Time
 1.    TODD KELLY       Kmart Racing                    Holden VX       1:11.5651
 2.    CRAIG LOWNDES    Gibson Motorsport               Ford AU         1:11.6283
 3.    GREG MURPHY      Kmart Racing                    Holden VX       1:11.6793
 4.    MARK SKAIFE      Holden Racing Team              Holden VX       1:11.7271
 5.    JASON BRIGHT     Holden Racing Team              Holden VX       1:11.7981
 6.    PAUL RADISICH    Shell Helix Racing              Ford AU         1:11.9300
 7.    LARRY PERKINS    Castrol Perkins Racing          Holden VX       1:11.9606
 8.    RUSSELL INGALL   Castrol Perkins Racing          Holden VX       1:11.9809
 9.    STEVEN RICHARDS  Ford Tickford Racing            Ford AU         1:12.0175
10.    MARCOS AMBROSE   Pirtek Racing                   Ford AU11       1:12.1007
11.    DAVID BESNARD    Caltex Havoline Racing          Ford AU11       1:12.1141
12.    SIMON WILLS      CAT Racing                      Ford AU         1:12.2800
13.    PAUL MORRIS      Big Kev Racing                  Holden VT       1:12.2996
14.    STEVE ELLERY     Supercheap Auto Racing Racing   Ford AU         1:12.3360
15.    GLENN SETON      Ford Tickford Racing            Ford AU         1:12.3401

</pre> -www.shellseries.com.au