UNFORTUNATE END TO GREAT FIRST SEASON FOR KELLY RACING
Jack Daniel's Racing drivers Todd and Rick Kelly have both failed to finish the final race of the Sydney Telstra 500 at the brand new Sydney Olympic Park street circuit in New South Wales today.
The double DNF was an unfortunate end to a stellar first year of Kelly Racing, which opened its doors in March and scored three podiums in its first season in a strong final phase of the 2009 season.
After qualifying third earlier today, Rick Kelly made a strong start to today's 74-lap race aboard the #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore to quickly move into second place.
But the dual Bathurst winner was one of many drivers caught out by the treacherous Turn 8, first making contact with the tyre wall on the exit of the corner on lap 10 and then spearing into the same tyres on lap 12, ending his day with suspension damage.
Todd Kelly qualified down in 25th position aboard the #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore, but using strong car speed and a sound pit strategy he moved into the top five in the middle stages of the race.
Unfortunately a suspected alternator failure ruined any chance of Todd Kelly scoring Jack Daniel's Racing another podium finish in the strong last phase of the season.
Todd Kelly was in fourth position when forced to pit to change the Jack Daniel's Commodore's battery on lap 50. He was forced to retire from the race seven laps later.
Rick Kelly finishes the 2009 V8 Supercar Championship Series in eighth position in the Driver's standings, while Todd Kelly completed the 26-race championship in 18th position.
To put Kelly Racing's inaugural season into context, Triple Eight Race Engineering, the current benchmark in V8 Supercars, had their drivers finish 19th and 28th in the championship standings in their first season of V8 competition in 2004.
James Courtney won today's race at the Sydney Telstra 500 ahead of Michael Caruso and Mark Winterbottom, making it three Sydney-born drivers on the podium of the first ever Sydney street race, which drew 184,856 over three days.
JACK DANIEL'S RACING QUOTEBOARD
Rick Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
QUESTION: You qualified really well and had a great start to the race, but things didn't go to plan.
"Yeah, one of my weak points as a driver, and one I always like to improve on, is qualifying," said Rick Kelly.
"Today we did that, which I was pretty stoked with, particularly at a track like this. It is quite hard to piece a lap together. So that was a great positive for me.
"I just made a couple of mistakes out there in the race. The first one I went in a little bit too deep and glanced the wall and we lost a few spots but were still looking OK.
"But then the next time I hit it I don't even know, to be honest, how that happened. I thought that we were carrying the adequate amount of corner speed to get through there fine, as per every other lap, and we just understeered towards the wall and hit it.
"So just for my own piece of mind I'm keen to look at the data to see how much quicker I was going through there. It caught a lot of people out there on the weekend, and we just have to make sure we don't do that again next time.
QUESTION: Is that a particularly tricky corner given its unusual shape and the dip in the middle?
"I think it's just the surface.
"On all the corners here you cannot go too wide around any of them because you'll get on the marbles and hit the fence. We saw it on a lot of corners but that one in particular.
"It would be great if we looked at that next year, but overall the course is good."
QUESTION: Just reflecting now, the first season of Kelly Racing has finished. Are you proud of the guys and the whole team?
"Absolutely. We wanted to grab a few podiums in our first year. We scored three and I think for the team that's an exceptional job.
"We have proved that we are pretty strong, there are a few areas we need to improve but apart from that, as a team, we did a good job.
"It's a little bit of a bummer to finish off the season on a downer like this, but it will just make us work harder for next year."
Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
QUESTION: It was a weird old race for you Todd. You started well down the order but the way things were panning out you were actually in the top 5 there until the problems.
"The boys did a real good job of the strategy," said Todd Kelly.
"We had planned on sacrificing the first three quarters of the race with our fuel stops to enable the last pit stop to be really short, which jumped us back up in the field.
"It was a long, hard day, we were running fourth at the end there and the car was good enough to stay around there. We started to lose battery power, it must have been an alternator.
"Over the course of about 15 laps I just kept turning everything off in the car, including the cool suit again, like yesterday. She finally died so we had to pit and put another battery in it, and then that only lasted a few laps and unfortunately that was the end of the day.
"So it's a shame because it could have been another Jack Daniel's podium. Rick was running up there as well, so it's a shame, but on a positive the cars are good and we're good to go for the start of next year.
QUESTION: It's been a big year work-wise for everyone at Kelly Racing. Is it nice to reflect on what has been achieved this year?
"Yeah, we are wrapped with where we sit at the moment. We still have a lot of work to do but the thing that gives us confidence is that I feel that we can do it.
"Eventually we will get to our goal, and that is Triple Eight. They are obviously the benchmark and we've come two thirds of the way there in our first year.
"So if we can stick to that plan and keep our heads down, I am very happy with what all of the guys have achieved this year."