Insights with Rick Kelly: The role of the driver

Rick Kelly finished the 2015 V8 Supercars season with a podium in Sydney. But was it really one of his best drives of the year? Let’s find out from the man himself…

Insights with Rick Kelly: The role of the driver
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports with the media
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports with the media
Third place Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Podium: winner Shane van Gisbergen, Tekno Autosports Holden, second place Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden, third place Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports with his team
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports

It’s interesting what people’s perception of what a good job is.

After our great result with a third place on Sunday at Sydney Olympic Park, I had so many people coming up and congratulating me on a good drive.

Yep it was a nice result, but to achieve that sort of finish, so much of it is down to the fact that you are given a fast car. It’s the guys around the driver – the engineer, data engineer, and the team – that prepare the car, they’re the ones who do the good job.

When everyone does a good job, you then have a car that can put the driver up at the front of the field; it’s then simply a case of circulating to get a result.

If I look back on the year, and just focus at my job of driving the car, at times I’ve personally done a better job than I did on the weekend – but finished backwards of 15th. Sometimes you can drive a good race, be a tough competitor and really get the best out of the car… but still finish up the back.

I guess more so it’s a reflection on the entire team; a fast car is one that is going to be up the front, not necessarily because the driver is hitting it out of the park.

I guess that’s the thing that sums up the leading statement that V8 Supercars is a team sport, just as much as a football or soccer or rugby league. It’s just that in our sport it is the driver who is pushed into the spotlight, he’s the one that everyone sees.

Realistically it’s everyone behind the scenes that does a fantastic job, and I think PRA is a great example of that this season. They’ve built themselves up over a number of years; they’ve landed on a base set-up and a car that is extremely fast, and faster than every other car in the field.

The result of their work over a long period of time in building up a car like that is a championship win.

Mark Winterbottom is very much a part of that, because he is a very solid driver, and has been very loyal to that team in helping them build it up.

It’s one of those things that the guys behind the scenes need to be recognised in the greater scheme of things, because they can make or break any driver.

So from that point of view, if someone says is a driver a good driver or a bad driver, a good driver is the one that aligns themselves with the best people and equipment. That’s how you win races and go down in the record books.

Points Paid Off

For us to get ninth in the final points is exciting.

You always get to the end of the year and say to yourself ‘if only this happened or that happened’, but everyone has that story to tell.

It’s a fair move forward from our car year-on-year, and it’s starting to get us to where we want to be.

Again we want to be a bit closer to the front, we showed that we had a lot of momentum in that last part of the year, and we had strong car pace for much of the time.

For us, it sets us up really well for next year, and I personally go into the Christmas break more motivated than in recent times. I want to train harder and do things better, which is good.

It’s a lot better than reaching December burnt out, and wanting to go away and hide over the break. I’m already excited with what we’ve got, and what we’re going to have next season.

It’s something that I’m proud of being ninth. It’s an interesting statement as everyone wants to win, but you’ve also got to acknowledge where we have come from.

We’ve started from scratch basically with a new engine and a new platform, and we’ve got a team behind us who have worked their guts out to be competitive, and it’s starting to show.

So there you have it. Thanks for reading along for the past 39 columns, and thanks to the team at Motorsport.com for giving me a soapbox to broadcast from this year.

Have a safe break and catch you around in 2016.

 

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