Symmons Plains: Holden Racing Team preview

Kelly surfs Gold Coast win wave into Tasmania As the fastest man ever around Symmons Plains in a V8 Supercar, the Holden Racing Team's Todd Kelly knows how to cut a quick lap around the 2.4kilometre circuit outside Launceston and says that doing...

Kelly surfs Gold Coast win wave into Tasmania

As the fastest man ever around Symmons Plains in a V8 Supercar, the Holden Racing Team's Todd Kelly knows how to cut a quick lap around the 2.4kilometre circuit outside Launceston and says that doing another one in qualifying and backing it up in the Top 10 Shootout this weekend is critical if he is to win two rounds in a row.

Fresh from victory in the last round on the streets of Surfers Paradise, Kelly knows that the limited passing opportunities at Symmons Plains mean it is absolutely vital to qualify at the front.

Having set the qualifying lap record of 51.9962s last year during provisional qualifying, Kelly slipped to fifth after the Top 10 Shootout and ended the weekend ninth after a range of dramas during the races.

Taking just his secondever career V8 pole on the Gold Coast, the 27yearold is further focused on converting qualifying pace into a decent grid position in the Shootout, where the pressure of a onelap effort against the clock can easily strike.

"It's so easy to make a mistake in the Shootout, as my brother Rick proved with a hit against the wall at Indy," said Kelly.

"You can blow the doors off the opposition in the regular qualifying session but unless you can get the best out of the car and tyres on the single lap in the Shootout, you are in for a really tough weekend.

"Being stuck in the pack is a bad thing at any track, but it's even worse at somewhere like Symmons Plains, where brakes are a major issue.

"You need a lot of cool air to keep the brakes from overheating and make sure they are still performing well in the latter stages of a race. Being tucked up behind other cars hampers their cooling and you need to be mindful of that."

Kelly knows all about being in a strong position at Symmons Plains but not collecting a trophy. In 2004 he was leading the final race and on target to collect a podium and perhaps a round win before his engine blew.

Bad luck dogged Kelly during the early part of the season but three podium finishes in a row at Sandown, Bathurst and Indy have helped lift him back up to ninth in the championship.

On the other hand, it seems that his bad luck has instead been transferred to the other side of the HRT garage to teammate Mark Skaife. Skaife, a twotime round winner at Symmons Plains, comes off two of the worst weekends of his career in the last two rounds and can do nothing but hope that bad luck doesn't come in threes.

"I can't see how after the dramas at Bathurst and Indy, not to mention the Sandown 500 slipping through our fingers, we can't be in for some good luck finally!" Skaife exclaimed.

"But as we've always done, we work away at the next race meeting and Symmons Plains is a happy hunting ground in the past for HRT.

"From here on in, there's no pressure on our team in terms of trying to win a championship. It's an uncomplicated equation of wanting to score pole positions, win races and win rounds.

"Car speed hasn't been a concern for us during the season so if we can have some luck roll our way in Tasmania, there's no doubt we can be right up the front fighting for a trophy."

Practice begins at Symmons Plains on Friday with qualifying, the top 10 shootout and race one on Saturday. The final two races will be run on Sunday.

-credit: hrt

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Mark Skaife , Todd Kelly
Teams Holden Racing Team