NEW TRACK MEANS HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR NEW KELLY TEAM Jack Daniel's Racing drivers Todd and Rick Kelly see this weekend's Dunlop Townsville 400 as an opportunity to put their new team at the front of the pack. The Bathurst-winning brothers have...
NEW TRACK MEANS HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR NEW KELLY TEAM
Jack Daniel's Racing drivers Todd and Rick Kelly see this weekend's Dunlop Townsville 400 as an opportunity to put their new team at the front of the pack.
The Bathurst-winning brothers have started a new V8 Supercar operation in 2009 and with that comes the task of building up experience and information for their brand new cars and crew.
But at a new venue such as Townsville, which will host its first V8 Supercar event this weekend, the advantage of past experience enjoyed by rival teams is greatly reduced.
Both Todd and Rick Kelly have put their Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodores in a position to score the team's debut podium finish over the course of the last two events at Symmons Plains and Darwin respectively, but luck has not fallen their way.
In Townsville, both are determined to continue their march up the order, with a podium finish the clear goal over the course of the weekend, where two 200-kilometre races will be staged.
JACK DANIEL'S RACING QUOTEBOARD
Rick Kelly - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
QUESTION: Do you think it will be an advantage for a new team like Jack Daniel's Racing heading to a brand new event where everyone is in the same situation in terms of no previous experience?
"Firstly, the last couple of events for us have been very promising, speed-wise and results-wise, but at the same time, very frustrating. I mean, we left Symmons Plains with a lap record and a really fast car and unfortunately 26th position overall. We could have easily been a third position or better on the day because we were running right up there.
"So I was a little bit frustrated from that one. Obviously in Darwin we were running second and had a nine second gap to third when the Safety Car came out towards the end, which was a bummer for us, and unfortunately we got knocked back to fourth. That for us again was promising but frustrating because we never did get that result under our belt.
"Heading to Townsville we're extremely keen to get a result given the frustrations of the last couple of rounds and excited about it as well, because it is a new event and Kelly Racing as a whole is a very new team.
"Townsville for us is great. All the other teams have been to all the other tracks around Australia dozens of times in some cases. So for us to head to Townsvillle puts us on more of an even playing field to these other guys and I think that is great.
"The Jack Daniel's Commodores have great pace and it's good to go to a track that no one else has got any data on as well. That will give us a bit of a 'leg-up' and if we keep moving in the same direction that we are going, we should hopefully bring home a trophy."
QUESTION: You never get 100 percent of the picture until you hit the track for that first lap of first practice, but from looking at the diagrams and maps, this circuit has probably got the potential to be one of the real highlights of the season, especially given how much of the layout is purpose-built?
"On the track itself, it looks quite interesting. It's always very difficult to make head or tail of a track looking at a drawing on a bit of paper or even when you walk around a track.
"The last time we went to a new event was at Hamilton in New Zealand last year. We walked around and had an opinion and an idea of what the track would be like and what sort of set-up we would need. A couple of the massive factors of that track like the back-straight chicane and the bumps into Turn 3, no one had any clue that they were going to present themselves as the big factors that they were.
"It's tough to look at the track on paper and actually walk around it and know what to expect from it. But looking at the drawing it certainly looks like it creates a lot of passing opportunity. There are a couple of right-hand corners leading into right-hand corners, which is a great passing opportunity.
"And there is some fun stuff as well. The section on the back at Turns 4, 5 and 6, it looks good as well. It's a bit of a mix of the Turn 10/11 complex at the Grand Prix. I think it will be quite exciting. I'm certainly looking forward to going there and learning a new track because I've been in the V8 Supercar category for eight years now and the tracks are mainly the same year-to-year.
"It's a good change to head somewhere new as well. Todd and I went up to the ticket launch up there late last year and were massively surprised by the amount of people that showed up on the day to buy their tickets. They were in a line that was probably over 400 metres long and it was 40-degree heat - that's how keen they were to purchase a ticket to go to this event.
"The support we've got from those guys in North Queensland is exceptional and that excites us to go there and it's also the location that great. My partner Elysia and I headed up to Townsville five days early to have a bit of a break and a look around because it is a nice venue to host an event and just generally a nice part of the world."
QUESTION: As a driver, when you are heading to an event where there is a lot of spectator interest, when it's a circuit close to the centre of the city and the atmosphere is exciting, does that change things at all for you, heading into an event knowing that there is going to be a lot going on for you on-track as well as off-track and there will be a lot of spectator interest from the entire city?
"That is something that we try to control. All the other tracks we go to, we already know how to drive around the track and we just concentrate on setting up the car rather than learning ourselves.
"We need to control that as much as we can and make sure we spend every second available to us going over the data and making sure that we have implemented the right driving style for that circuit and have got the right set-up on the car.
"That's going to be the key and that's one of the massively exciting parts of the weekend, in that we don't know who the track is going to favour, if Triple 8 will be fast, if FPR will be fast, whether it will be a HRT-favoured circuit or whether it will be a Jack Daniel's Racing favoured circuit. That's one of the most exciting things about it.
"As well as that, the race at the end of the year in Sydney is even more exciting, because it will be an event where everyone is fighting to win the championship and no one knows what to expect from the track.
"The championship as a whole with the inclusion of these two new rounds is extremely exciting."
Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
"The big thing about this weekend is that we are visiting a brand new track," said Todd Kelly.
"Being the first time for the Townsville track we are all really in a race of two parts -- the first is to get you head around driving around the circuit and the second is to work with your engineer to get the best car set-up.
"They will be the two parts of this weekend that will really have a huge bearing on who goes well and who doesn't.
"For me, I am extremely excited about this kind of challenge. The two things I like most about what we do, as drivers, are the engineering side of things and also the actual driving of the car.
"Running the Jack Daniel's Commodore at Townsville this weekend will really test all the drivers and teams and the input from the driver is going to be a lot more important this weekend, as there is no previous data to go on.
"I really can't wait for this weekend. It will be hard work for everyone but I'm very excited about the challenge that lies ahead."