Eastern Creek: Sunday race report

V8 Supercar Driver Scores Solo Maiden Win at the Creek Bathurst winner Rick Kelly has scored his first solo win in the V8 Supercars Championship Series in atrocious conditions at Eastern Creek this afternoon. Kelly scored his victory when the...

V8 Supercar Driver Scores Solo Maiden Win at the Creek

Bathurst winner Rick Kelly has scored his first solo win in the V8 Supercars Championship Series in atrocious conditions at Eastern Creek this afternoon. Kelly scored his victory when the race was red flagged with nine laps remaining.

Craig Lowndes and Garth Tander joined Kelly on the podium, while only two cars failed to finish through crash damage on a day when much more was possible.

The race started under Safety Car after drivers raised concerns about streams of water crossing the track in Turn 1, and finished with a huge downpour 68 laps later. Kelly's drive today was superb, and has continued on from the form that made him the youngest ever winner in this series at Bathurst last year.

Kelly came from 17th on the grid and was inside the top 10 on the third lap and challenging for the lead by lap 19. It was a drive that made all of pitlane stand-up and watch.

"It was a really tough race, you had to focus the whole time out there," Kelly said. "It feels pretty good, it was a really difficult race and it is great to win this one on my own. It has been a long time since I've led a race like that, and I had to make sure I didn't make any mistakes.

"We really struggled in practice and qualifying because we had some bad sets of tyres, but we came out this morning with a really good set-up for the wet and we stuck with that, and thankfully the weather worked for us.

"I know if we've got the car speed we can run up the front, and I know will be faster later in the year. This is a really long Championship and you need to get the best results you can, and this is obviously as good as you can do."

Kelly has now moved to third in the Championship behind Steve Richards and Marcos Ambrose.

Craig Lowndes form recovery today was a welcome fillip for Ford Performance Racing which has had a shocking start to the season. Today's points are his first fort the year and guarantees him a start in the next round at New Zealand.

"It is great when the car is great in the wet, but now we've got to make it good in the dry," Lowndes said. "We had to be really straight today, and even near the end we were still trying to look after the tyres.

"The got slower as it got wetter, so I was praying it did not get wetter after I had passed Garth. Fortunately it got really wet... it was the right decision to stop the race, it was totally undriveable."

Lowndes and Tander fought an amazing battle in the closing laps, swapping places and driving side-by-side with power slides.

"It was good fun," Lowndes said of the dice, "the two cars had a completely different set-up, he had good drive and I had good point. But you have to have 100% trust in those situations, it is very easy to cop a run and be put out of the race."

Tander said he also enjoyed the dice, but with his car all fogged over he rarely knew where Lowndes.

"It was good, but I couldn't see him," Tander said. "I knew he was there but that was all, and it was always a bit if a surprise when he came up beside me. There was a bit of push and shove but it was all good.

"We changed the car a bit over the night for the dry, but we always had a wet set-up in mind. I couldn't believe how easy it was to pass cars early in the race, this was a very good race for us considering how much work was required to repair the two cars after Adelaide."

Steve Richards was fourth in the race and has moved into the lead in the Series, Marcos Ambrose managing only seventh in a day when his SBR team missed the set-up. Greg Murphy was fifth in a day that augered well for the Kmart team after a rough run in practice and qualifying.

Much of the day's action was provided by the HRT, two spins to team leader Mark Skaife pushing him down to 22nd on a day when he said he had enough car speed to win the race, and Todd Kelly the centre of an incident that brought out the Safety Car on lap 57.

Kelly, Rick's older brother, had a small off before rejoining the action in front of Ambrose who was not able to avoid the #22 HRT Commodore, spinning the car a second time. Kelly then came back on the track in front of Mark Winterbottom and Jason Richards, the latter slamming into the back of Kelly and finishing his race in the spot.

Kelly was given a drive-through penalty for rejoining the track in a dangerous manner.

Earlier in the race, Steve Ellery became the only other retirement of the race, spearing off the track in Turn 1 and breaking the concrete wall that he hit. Ellery was uninjured in the crash.

There is now a four week break to the third round of the series at the Pukekohe circuit in New Zealand.


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Series Supercars
Drivers Garth Tander , Marcos Ambrose , Greg Murphy , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jason Richards , Todd Kelly , Mark Winterbottom , Steve Richards