TAZ DOUGLAS CAPS COMEBACK WITH STRATCO RACING ENDURANCE DRIVE Taz Douglas will cap a remarkable comeback to racing from serious illness when he lines up for Stratco Racing at the V8 Supercar endurance events at Phillip Island and ...
TAZ DOUGLAS CAPS COMEBACK WITH STRATCO RACING ENDURANCE DRIVE
Taz Douglas will cap a remarkable comeback to racing from serious illness when he lines up for Stratco Racing at the V8 Supercar endurance events at Phillip Island and Bathurst.
Douglas has been signed by Kelly Racing to partner West Aussie Tony Ricciardello in the #16 Stratco Holden Commodore at the two long distance events, following a solid endurance event debut last season with Fujitsu V8 Supercars Series team Greg Murphy Racing, who entered the races as a 'wildcard' entry.
This year Douglas will be part of the four-car Kelly Racing operation and the 25-year-old Victorian could not be more excited to be in the same line-up as drivers the caliber of Todd and Rick Kelly, Jason Bargwanna, Glenn Seton and Tony Ricciardello.
Douglas' signing adds to his remarkable comeback to racing this season, following a stint on the sidelines after being diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma in January.
With his plans to compete for his own Fastaz Motorsport team in the second-tier Fujitsu V8 Series this season shelved while he underwent chemotherapy, Douglas fought on to make his racing comeback at the Sucrogen Townsville 400 in July.
Douglas's comeback was a successful one, scoring his best ever Fujitsu Series race finish with a fifth place run in his #92 Commodore, which receives engines and technical assistance from Kelly Racing.
The endurance events are also a welcome challenge for Ricciardello, who excelled at these longer races last season in the team's #16 Commodore, running as high as fourth place at Bathurst before a spin ended his charge late in the race.
Kelly Racing will complete its pre-endurance event test day at Winton Motor Raceway today before the L&H 500 kicks off the V8 Supercars 'season of endurance' on September 10-12 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circiut, followed by the biggest race of the season, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama on October 7-10.
STRATCO RACING QUOTEBOARD:
TAZ DOUGLAS - #16 Stratco Holden Commodore:
QUESTION: It must be exciting to make your second start at Bathurst as part of a big four car time in Kelly Racing, compared to racing there as a single car wildcard entry last season. Will it be a big help to have drivers like Todd, Rick and Bargs alongside you this time around?
"Last year was just a bit of a toe in the water for me," said Taz Douglas.
"I didn't really have high expectations, I just went there to see what it's all about, as a wildcard, to have a go and get a feel for how that race is in the big league.
"To have this opportunity this year is huge. I'm probably looking forward to Phillip island and Bathurst more than any race I've ever done before because I'm just getting so much information from Todd and Rick, and you've got Glenn (Seton) driving with Bargwanna as well.
"All the information I'm getting off of those guys is going towards what I will do in the Stratco car with Tony, and also when I go back to drive my Fujitsu Series car."
QUESTION: Does having the input from more experienced team-mates accelerate the learning process and the time it takes getting up to speed early in the weekend?
"Absolutely. If you are on your own it can take a session, a couple of sessions or even a whole weekend to work out the right way and the wrong way to do some things. In this situation you just know straight away what is the best way and it gets you up to speed straight away.
"I'm really looking forward to working with all the other drivers in the Kelly Racing squad. I see it as something that will help me for these two events but also for the rest of my career.
QUESTION: It's been a big year for you having to sit out the start of the year due to illness, then making your comeback with your own Fastaz team in the Fujitsu Series in Townsville and now getting this drive with Stratco Racing for the endurance events. It's been a big turnaround after a lot of effort to get back to racing.
"Lying in hospital at the start of the year I never thought I would be where I am now.
"I just thought the year was a bit of a write-off. I thought I might make comeback, maybe this year. I wasn't planning on coming back this year. I just thought I would see how I go.
"I went alright in Townsville and I was fortunate that there was still a seat available at Kelly Racing. I'm really keen to not only do well for myself but also do well for the team as well.
"Todd and Rick and all the crew guys work so hard on the cars and the team. I know how hard it is to get a car on the track. It's not just a driver out there, it's a whole team, so I really want to do a good job for them all in the Stratco Commodore."
QUESTION: You have been doing a lot of fitness work and driver change practice with all the Kelly Racing drivers. In terms of your recovery are you confident you are up to it for these endurance events?
"Yeah I think so. I've been training flat out, swimming, riding, all kinds of fitness and training with the guys here. So I'm doing as much as I can out of the car, but as they say, there is nothing like seat time and being race fit.
"I'm testing today with the guys, then I'm going to test my DVS car on the Tuesday as well, just to get extra laps in.
"I'm sure that I will be right by the time Phillip Island comes around and then for Bathurst."
TONY RICCIARDELLO - #16 Stratco Holden Commodore:
"I'm looking forward to the enduros," said Tony Ricciardello.
"Hopefully this is where we can make a big step forward in pace, get some better results and just keep progressing like we have been.
"Taz has done a lot of miles in the Fujitsu Series, just not of late, and we're going to work together well as a team.
"There is no lead driver, we are going to help each other out as much as we can and for us the big picture is to get a good result and finish both these races.
"We're looking forward to making the most of Phillip Island and Bathurst."
TODD KELLY - Kelly Racing:
"Tony really came on unbelievably well this time last year in the enduros," said Todd Kelly.
"The job Tony did at Bathurst was absolutely outstanding. He was trucking along as well as anyone there for a while, doing good, consistent lap times.
"As well as that, we've done a fair bit of homework on Taz and at Phillip Island last year he did an awesome job and he did good times for very first time at Bathurst last year as well. They are going to be a pretty good combination.
"Taz has been through a huge amount in the last 12 months and it's good to be able to give a young bloke like that a crack in a team like ours.
"We've been doing a lot of training and stuff together. For him to run his own Fujistu Series car is a huge effort for him and to now see how a full scale, professional operation works is great for him as well.
"We are giving those guys absolutely everything in our power to get a good result. We've put Stu (Stuart McDonald) on the Stratco car to engineer it. He has been Jason (Bargwanna)'s race engineer all year and he is extremely excited about the challenge, so we are expecting pretty big things from those guys."
QUESTION: Taz runs his own team in the Fujitsu Series, just like you and Rick run Kelly Racing. Obviously there is a massive difference in the scale of those two operations but do you like the fact that Taz comes puts in the effort to run his own team?
"For us, Taz is doing all the right things, especially the way he carries himself in the team and presents himself. He's punctual to all our meetings and he doesn't have a huge ego. He's prepared to put in the hard yards.
"He works on his own equipment full-time, which I've always said is a really good thing for a driver to do as it gives you knowledge of your equipment.
"He's ticking all the boxes and he's putting in a huge amount of effort spending time at the workshop. Every time I walk out the back he's out there doing something, whether it's practicing putting his seat belts in or talking to the guys.
"When someone works that hard and can obviously drive, it's good to be in the position to give someone like that a good opportunity."
-source: kelly racing