Adelaide: Jack Daniel's Racing driver interviews

RICK KELLY - ...

RICK KELLY - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:

QUESTION: How do you think things sit for you after the first four races of the season in the Middle East?

"I think we went OK. You always have aspirations of coming out in the first couple of events and to be winning races and leading the championship early.

"That's probably a tough ask at the start of our second year. I'd like to be a little further forward than what we are but given the fact that we rolled the Jack Daniel's Commodore out at both events and it wasn't ideal to start with, I think we did a fantastic job recovering and getting into the top four by the end of the weekend on both occasions.

"Right now I'm really enjoying the racing side of things. It was a lot of fun over in the Middle East, particularly in the second race in Bahrain when we had as much pace as we did. So from that point of view I'm looking forward to Adelaide."

QUESTION: How do you stop Jamie Whincup?

"I'm not worried about him. Right now those guys are doing a great job at winning races and they're a little bit untouchable.

"For us we're just focusing on the job that we are doing. We had a good Jack Daniel's Commodore at the second race in Bahrain and we're close to getting the most out of our car. We're the closest we've ever been.

"Swenno (David Swenson, Race Engineer - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore) and I are quite confident about setting the car up now and driving it so we're focused on that and focused on getting the most out of ourselves and our equipment. When we're at that point where we can do that then we can definitely challenge Jamie.

"We're not looking at him or getting concerned about him at the moment. They're doing a great job and we need to do the same thing."

QUESTION: For the first time since 2001 Adelaide is not the first race of the season this year. Does that change the event for you at all?

"I don't think it does. Maybe if we had the first race of the year in Sydney or Townsville it would take something away. But it's our first local race and to an extent, as far as most of the fans are concerned it still is the first race because it's the first one that they really have a good opportunity of attending and seeing live.

"From that point of view, the fact that the first two races are so far away overseas, I don't think they take anything away from Adelaide because Clipsal is such a massive event."

QUESTION: Why is the Clipsal 500 so special?

"It would be the biggest single driver event of the year without a doubt. It's the most prestigious event to win other than the endurance events. It's something that we look forward to and it's a tough race as well.

"It's definitely still the toughest race we do. It's two races that are 250 kilometres long and in Adelaide in March it's around the 30-degree mark, which means it's about 55-60 degrees in the car.

"It's also a pretty prestigious event and it's never going to lose that. It's the toughest event and one that is second only to Bathurst from my point of view and that says a lot."

QUESTION: Clipsal marks one year since Kelly Racing made its racing debut. What are your thoughts on the team heading back there?

"We were almost lucky to get to Clipsal at all last year with all the preparation that we had to get done beforehand.

"So for me to grab two top 10s there was a good start for us. It's an event where I have always gone quite well. I've picked up some trophies from there and scored a pole as well.

"Coming off having one of the best cars in Bahrain in Race 2 we are all quite excited about going there in our second year and being, hopefully, one of the top cars to beat.

"I certainly think we've opened the eyes of a few other teams now and we need to certainly register ourselves as one of the serious threats in V8 Supercars."

QUESTION: What are some of your memories of the Clipsal 500?

"Well the win in 2007 is a big memory. I also remember when I started off the front row of the grid and apparently jumped the start and got a drive through penalty early on and I drove back from last to third. That was a lot of fun, passing all those cars and we had a good car that year.

"It's just a good track. If you haven't quite got the car speed, it's such a long race and so many things happen that you can generally still get a good result out of it. It's an event I love for that reason."

QUESTION: How tough is it to coordinate and manage such a big team for an event as demanding as Clipsal?

"For us the workload before Clipsal this year is almost as tough as it was for us in our first year last year because from both the Middle Eastern events it's a very short turnaround time.

"We've had to redo all the graphics for the pit walling and trucks. It's the first time we are going to use a lot of the equipment that we only use at the races here in Australia so it's been a busy week actually preparing all that stuff to take there.

"The preparation-side of things before we actually get to the event is massive and also when we get to Adelaide, we have to manage things well from every point of view because being such a big event with so much on, it turns into quite a long week."

QUESTION: What are your memories of your win at the Clipsal 500 in 2007, when you and Todd were both on the podium together.

"That trophy is not going to move from my office into his I can tell you!

"I bit further down the track after we finished that round, about six months on, they changed the rules to say whoever wins the Sunday race wins the round, so they effectively took the round win off Todd and gave it to me.

"Everyone knows that the Clipsal 500 winner is always the guy who wins on Sunday, so I'm not too concerned with it.

"For me in that point in my career I'd just won the 2006 championship and copped a bit of flack about how things happened there.

"So to come out and win the Clipsal 500 with the number one on the door was awesome. It was the first round win I had picked up in a little while. We won the round in New Zealand shortly after, so it was a great start to the year.

"It's probably one of my most memorable wins, second only to the Bathurst wins."

TODD KELLY - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:

QUESTION: What are your aims on-track at Clipsal? It's has not been a great start to the year for you but you have said that you have put that behind you.

"Well I'm not really thinking about the Middle East. We had glimpses there where the #7 Jack Daniel's Commodore was really good but we just had a heap of circumstances that eventuated and it gave us a really bad couple of rounds.

"So the best thing we can do as a team, and me as a driver, is not stew on that. We've got all the ingredients there to do well for the rest of the year and not worry about focusing on the championship points. We have just got to go out and do the job that we know we can do.

"My thoughts don't change when I get to an event. I still want to go there and qualify on the front row and win the race. If anything, there is a little bit less pressure because anything we do moving forward will be an improvement so I'm as keen as ever to go out there and get results for Jack Daniel's Racing.

"The better we go, the more points we will score, so that will take care of itself. I'm really determined to concentrate on each race and scoring some really strong results in Adelaide."

QUESTION: Jamie Whincup has been unbeatable so far. How do you beat him?

"They've done an awesome job in the crossover from Ford to Holden. I honestly thought that with the workload they had over the break that they might not have been so strong.

"I always thought their equipment would be as good as what it was last year if not better, but the only potential downfall they had was the amount of work their crew had to do and obviously that hasn't affected them. They've come out very strong at the start of the year.

"They're already a fair way in front and they are the team to beat. We just need to keep focusing on making sure we improve our equipment and try to bridge the gap that we've got between them and us. We're not the only team that needs to worry about bridging the gap because there is not really anybody that is very close to them at the moment."

QUESTION: How tough is it to run a four-car team at a big event like the Clipsal 500?

"As a team it's always hard to do a schedule. It's a huge workload for the crew and a lot of the time the guys are there until past midnight at a race meeting. But we have a pretty comprehensive management structure and process to make sure that all the guys are happy and looked after and perform at their best on a race weekend.

"As a driver, events like Clipsal are by far the hardest of the year because of the size of the event. The corporate workload and the media workload is at its highest for the year and it's not only that, the actual driving workload is at its highest because the length of the races and the circuit makes it renowned as probably the hardest race of the year.

"We generally get to Clipsal and have corporate appearances and autograph sessions almost right up until the moment we get in the car, then we jump in the car and focus on performing well for two and a half hours.

"It is hard and that's all part of being a driver. That's what the sport is and most forms of motorsport at the level we're at have the same pressures. It's just one of those things that you have to get used to and manage."

QUESTION: Do you think this year's Clipsal 500 will be any different for you as a driver now that it is not the first race and you have two events under your belt?

"Clipsal is always extremely hard and every driver in the field respects that event for how hard it actually is.

"It will be just a little bit easier because we've had a few rounds and a test day but at the same time it's still going to be the hardest race of the year, so we're all gearing up for that and making sure that we are at a level where we can comfortably get through the weekend."

QUESTION: Do you think the event will lose any of it's 'buzz' because it's not the first race of the season?

"I think that it will be as good as ever. The event has been fantastic right from the start and it's been able to maintain that with everything that they throw at it with the bands and the whole atmosphere.

"I can't wait to get there and I can't see why the event would not be as good or even better that it's ever been in the past.

"Any person in this sport really enjoys seeing what we do be a success and the way that the sport has grown over the last few years is really a credit to the Clipsal 500 because everything that we've done in the last few years to grow our sport and our events is based off the fantastic work that they do at Clipsal.

"The bands are there, the atmosphere, the way the whole thing is run, if you bring up a new event like Townsville or Sydney and base it as closely to Clipsal as you can it's going to be an awesome event.

"That's probably one of the biggest things that's happened to our sport in the modern era, is the success of Adelaide."

QUESTION: There are now a few events on the schedule that are similar to Adelaide like Townsville, Sydney and the Gold Coast. Why is Adelaide still the toughest event?

"The physical side of things is tough because it's a long street race. The shorter track and longer races at the Gold Coast will make that extremely difficult this year. Sydney is also hard and you saw so many cars not finish there because they ended up in the fence and the track was breaking up.

"But of all those races, Clipsal is the best race for being able to race the whole time. The track is awesome and with the layout of the place, there are some good passing opportunities. If you're not on the money for the whole time you are not going to get a result. If you are going quite well you can progress and pass people.

"It's 100 percent dedication for the whole race so it's actually a really good track and event for that reason alone."

QUESTION: Does the event hold some more significance with you given that it was in Adelaide 12 months ago that Kelly Racing hit the race track for the first time?

"I remember how difficult it was just to make that event last year. All four drivers in the team, as well as every team member, worked until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning for the two weeks leading into the event just to make sure we could get there.

"We didn't have cars or pit equipment or anything that you require to go racing at the beginning of the year so the workload was massive. So we certainly are much better prepared for it this time around and hopefully that shows in our results."

QUESTION: Do you have any past memories of Clipsal that stick out in your mind?

"Yeah, that it's a hard race.

"A lot of the guys have a bad day there and don't make it. I remember little snippets over the many years that I've been there and it's the things that you need to keep in the back of your mind to make sure you do a good job of preparing.

"When Rick had his first race there he ended up in the back of the ambulance with a drip in each arm. I remember when Steve Owen when he passed out and rolled off the end of the straight and into the tyre bundles just through sheer exhaustion and dehydration.

"Those are the memories you need to have to build the amount of respect you need so that you go out and train and put all the effort in.

"We've had some good success there over the year and we've also had a few crashes. It's certainly a place I'd like to conquer.

"Rick and I have both had podiums there but to go and win the event and back it up on both days would be massive."

QUESTION: Was 2007 an extra special memory given both you and Rick stood on the podium together?

"It was a good memory but it's been a debate ever since.

"Originally I was the overall round winner because I had the most points for the weekend. Then they changed the rule a few months later and decided that whoever won on Sunday was the round winner.

"So it's been a constant debate between Rick and I ever since.

"I know he's never going to give the trophy back so the only way I'm going to get one is to go out and win it."

-source: kelly racing

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Series Supercars
Drivers Jamie Whincup , Steve Owen