RICK KELLY SCORES FIRST PODIUM FOR NEW TEAM WITH THIRD AT PHILLIP ISLAND Jack Daniel's Racing driver Rick Kelly has scored the Kelly Racing operation its first podium finish and race trophy with third place in the opening race of the Island 300...
RICK KELLY SCORES FIRST PODIUM FOR NEW TEAM WITH THIRD AT PHILLIP ISLAND
Jack Daniel's Racing driver Rick Kelly has scored the Kelly Racing operation its first podium finish and race trophy with third place in the opening race of the Island 300 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Victoria today.
It was a great display of car speed and potential for Rick and brother Todd, with both Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodores right on the pace.
Todd Kelly qualified in fourth place with Rick right behind in fifth. Todd was run wide by polesitter Jason Bright at the first corner but rejoined the track and settled into third spot for the opening laps of the race.
Todd pitted on lap six aboard his #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore, while Rick came into pit lane for his compulsory stop one lap later.
As a result of the slightly differing pit strategies, Rick came out on track in third, with Todd close behind in fourth, with the two Jack Daniel's Commodores running nose-to-tail for much of the middle stages of the 22-lap race.
While Rick held down third place, Todd battled hard for several laps with Craig Lowndes until on lap 15 the two cars made contact at Turn 2, with both firing off the road and into the gravel trap.
A Safety Car was required to remove Todd's stranded Commodore, dropping him a lap down and ruining his race. Lowndes was penalised post-race the equivalent of a pit lane drive through penalty for his part in the incident.
While Todd was left disappointed, Rick was able to storm home and bring home his #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore in third.
It was a particularly good effort for the team given a reshuffle of key positions ahead of this weekend's event -- read more about that by CLICKING HERE.
Jamie Whincup took the race win ahead of Will Davison and Rick Kelly, with a 44-lap race to be held tomorrow.
JACK DANIEL'S RACING QUOTEBOARD
Rick Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
"We all really did a great job today," said Rick Kelly.
"Qualifying was our weakness today. The race car we had was absolutely fantastic. Swenno (David Swenson, Race Engineer - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore) gave me exactly what I needed there as far as the car goes.
"It was my first shootout since New Zealand this year so it was a bit of a nervous one and I think I could have got a bit more out of it if I had a couple more under my belt.
"The race was great. The biggest thing for me is that I'm really disappointed that Todd can't be up here with me. He had a couple of guys deal with him quite harshly from what I saw out there and that's a bit of a bummer.
"For the whole team and for our sponsors like Jack Daniel's and Holden to get our first podium is awesome. We're three quarters into our first year so this is great and the pace we've had here and at the last three rounds has been great as well.
"As a team we are really happy. It's great to see everyone's faces when we finished third there. If you look at the amount of boys on the wall as I crossed the line it's just awesome."
RICK KELLY PRESS CONFERENCE
QUESTION: You must be delighted. It's only a year since you started of thinking about running your own team. This is a great return on all the effort.
"I couldn't be happier. I guess at the start of the year I was very excited about starting our own team but just that little bit nervous. We all know how difficult to build a team and make sure it is competitive.
"Certainly the last four races we've shown that we've got some great pace and that's really exciting. I'm a happy boy sitting up here now with a trophy in hand. It's just a little bit disappointing that some aggressive driving took Todd away from being up there as well."
QUESTION: Have you spoken to Todd about the incident with Lowndes as yet?
"I don't think Todd would be too stoked at the moment with what happened out there with him ending up in the sand trap. That's a bit disappointing. He probably drove better than me all day today. He out-qualified me today and was in front before our pit stops and did a good job.
"From a team point of view it was disappointing but it's really exciting that we did get our first trophy.
QUESTION: It must be great result for the team. You have a lot of experienced hands there but you've had a reshuffle with some key positions before this weekend. So to see both Jack Daniel's cars in the top 10 and a podium now will go a long way to letting the Todd Kelly incident go missing in their minds this afternoon.
"We have had a few changes internally and that doesn't worry us. We actually promote that sort of thing.
"In the past people would be a little bit touchy about moving things around but our team's attitude is very much that we certainly approach everything with an 'open-minded attitude' and that's been great. In the trailer this weekend there are a couple of different faces. We've got Matty House as Team Manager now and Joe (Bremner) looking on. Barry, Todd's old engineer is now Team Manager of the other team and Todd's got a new engineer (ED: James Small) and it's worked great.
"The pace has been good, everyone is working well together and as a team we are extremely close anyway. When we do swap things it really doesn't matter, so I'm very excited."
QUESTION: Pre-season we met and spoke and you talked about top eight being a championship objective. You're now top seven and you've got your own chase going on. Are you performing that way you want to be performing late season?
"Certainly for me, I've been quite busy at the race team in the first half of the season and I reckon my driving could have been a little bit better in the mid-year. So I've focused a lot again on training, getting the most out of the car and staying focused 100 percent of the time and not making any mistakes.
"So I'm starting to chip away with that again now and starting to get back to where I was 12 months ago or 18 months ago and the car's working well as well. So it shows that we are where we need to be.
QUESTION: As a start-up operation with your own expectations, what has been the hardest thing for you to achieve? What is something that you didn't count on taking so long to do or having to work so hard on?
"The development of the car has taken a lot longer than what I thought. We all had in our minds at the start of the year what we wanted to achieve with parts like uprights, motion ratios, diff housings, the whole lot.
"We drew it all out and said 'yeah, we'll do all of this' and we're still developing that and implementing that now.
"Just the processes of how long things take. We've got a lot of guys but as far as four cars go it's a little bit of a skeleton crew in terms of designers, the machine shop staff, time and even actual machines as well. So it's taken a long time to get those uprights and diff housings and bits and pieces in the car and then to learn the set-up window.
"I would have loved to have that all done six months into the year but that's something that I've learned a lot about and something that I've enjoyed.
"It's great to walk in and be welcomed into the engine shop and be shown around and be welcomed into development meetings that we have weekly now. You bit your two bob's worth in and to actually see that stuff go into the car has been good.
"The main guy there is Todd. The amount of input that he's had into everything has been an eye opener for me and the job he has done controlling the team in a lot of areas has been nothing short of impressive."
Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
QUESTION: What's your take on the incident with Craig Lowndes while you were running fourth?
"We were racing really well up until then," said Todd Kelly.
"He passed me at MG (Corner) and we swapped sides for a little bit. It was really good, enjoyable racing without anyone doing anything silly.
"Then he went in narrow into Turn 1 and had a bit of a slide and I basically got passed him and gave him plenty of room into Turn 2 and he's just come in and speared me off.
"He hit my rear bumper and speared me off, so it was a little bit of a shame. I don't know what he was doing there."
QUESTION: From a team point of view it must be nice to have both Jack Daniel's Commodores running third and fourth there until the incident and to have Rick get the team's first trophy?
"It was good to have both Jack Daniel's Commodores up there and for once to look out the windscreen and not have too many cars in front.
"You can see the leader just in front and you can chase them down and fight for it. It was good. The car still needs a little bit of fine tuning and there is plenty of room for improvement so we're certainly starting to get it together.
"I couldn't really here my new engineer James on the radio, so we need to fix that problem for tomorrow."
-credit: jack daniel's racing