Phillip Island: Jack Daniel's Racing preview

TODD AND RICK KELLY A COMBINATION TO WATCH AT PHILLIP ISLAND JACK DANIEL'S RACING CELEBRATES MR JACK'S BIRTHDAY WITH SPECIAL BONNET Jack Daniel's Racing team-mates and brothers Todd and Rick Kelly both see their ...

TODD AND RICK KELLY A COMBINATION TO WATCH AT PHILLIP ISLAND

JACK DANIEL'S RACING CELEBRATES MR JACK'S BIRTHDAY WITH SPECIAL BONNET

Jack Daniel's Racing team-mates and brothers Todd and Rick Kelly both see their #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore as one of the cars to watch in the L&H 500 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Victoria this weekend.

The Bathurst-winning brothers will team-up for only the second time in their career for this year's V8 Supercar endurance events, starting with the Phillip Island event this weekend.

The Kelly brothers paired up for the endurance events in 2006, finishing a close second in both races.

Teaming up again in the first season of their brand new team, Todd and Rick are one of only three combinations in this year's endurance events where both drivers are previous Bathurst winners, together with Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes (Car #888) and Greg Murphy and Mark Skaife (Car #51).

Older brother Todd Kelly says that the Kelly combination is one of the dark horses for this year's V8 Supercar 'season of endurance'.

"We are definitely the dark horse for these two endurance races," said Todd Kelly.

"It's not going to be easy and there are going to be a lot of pairings that are going to be extremely hard to beat and a lot of good quality, competitive and reliable cars.

"But we are quietly confident. If we're going to have any success in our first year, these two events are going to be the ones where we've got half a chance of having a really good run.

"The team and the pit crew and everyone behind us are definitely up to speed and are capable of doing the job.

"Hopefully, if it all comes together, it might be the first podium for Jack Daniel's Racing this year."

Rick Kelly, a two-time Bathurst winner, is excited to pair up with his older brother for only the second time, given that both have had so much to do with establishing Kelly Racing, which was officially opened a little over six months ago.

"For me, it's very exciting to pair up with Todd and work towards a better result," said Rick Kelly.

"We have both played a massive part in building the team and it would be awesome if we were able to get that podium together, rather that one of us getting that at a single driver event.

"We've both played such a big role in building this team that it would be great to both get that first podium for the whole team and celebrate it together and have both achieved that in the same Jack Daniel's Commodore.

"To be honest, we are pretty passionate about that so that's why we are working so hard to make Phillip Island and Bathurst the big events for us."

Both Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodores will feature a special bonnet design at Phillip Island this weekend, celebrating the birthday of Mr Jasper Newton 'Jack' Daniel.

Every year in September, people all around the world celebrate the birthday of Mr Jack, but the exact date of his birth is the subject of much debate. Since his birth date is not known, his birthday is celebrated for an entire month.

It's most likely that he was born in 1848, while his gravestone is inscribed with 1850, but just like so many of the mysteries that surround Jack Daniel and his distillery, all the conversation and stories that surround these mysteries has served Mr Jack and his whiskey better than any simple fact could ever do.

"It's funny that Mr Jack's exact birthday is something of a mystery because there are a lot of racing drivers out there who are exactly the same," joked Rick Kelly.

"As this is my first year racing in the colours of Jack Daniel's, it has been fascinating to learn about all the elements of Jack Daniel's and Mr Jack's birthday is another great story behind the famous brand.

"We're pleased to have Mr Jack on the front of both of our Jack Daniel's Commodores at Phillip Island and it's pretty cool that we can help people all around the world celebrate his birthday some 150-odd years after his birth."

JACK DANIEL'S RACING QUOTEBOARD

Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:

QUESTION: So far this year it's been a massive effort for everyone to get a new team together, for a new group of guys to work together and for you and Rick to get two brand new Jack Daniel's Commodores working well. Entering the endurance events, things are more established now and everything is really heading in the right direction. Does that give you guys the chance to step things up a notch?

"We are definitely the dark horse for these two endurance races," said Todd Kelly.

"It's not going to be easy and there are going to be a lot of pairings that are going to be extremely hard to beat and a lot of good quality, competitive and reliable cars.

"But we are quietly confident. If we're going to have any success in our first year, these two events are going to be the ones where we've got half a chance of having a really good run.

"The team and the pit crew and everyone behind us are definitely up to speed and are capable of doing the job.

"Hopefully, if it all comes together, it might be the first podium for Jack Daniel's Racing this year."

QUESTION: Pairing up with Rick for the second time gives Jack Daniel's Racing one of the top pairings. What are your expectations for the enduros?

"We are the point of the year now where we've pretty much locked in all of our running gear on the Jack Daniel's Commodores as far as the front and rear suspension and the spec of the car when we go racing.

"My car has been different nearly every race weekend just to get to the point where we are now with all the running gear.

"It's all come together at the right time and the reliability is now very good in the whole car. Our whole package has really just come together at the right time for me and Rick to jump in, drive together and go well.

"We've done that before and had a lot of success. All the little things that you normally have to have a bit of a struggle with, like getting comfortable in the car, seating positions and even down to the set-up of the car, all of that stuff is really easy for me and Rick.

"We're both very comfortable in the car the way that we've got it set-up and the way that we like to drive the car is almost identical, so we've got a big advantage for these next two endurance events, just from the fact that all those things for us are very similar."

Rick Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:

QUESTION: The endurance events concentrate a lot of interest on a key group of cars. While there are perhaps fewer cars contending for the win, the cars at the front have two front-line drivers aboard and a massive effort from their team behind them. Yourself and Todd are clearly one of the cars to watch, so how do you deal with that pressure?

"Certainly, the intensity for the endurance races goes up a notch, but it also halves the competition because most of the top drivers pair up so it's an interesting one for us," said Rick Kelly.

"The big advantage for me and Todd is that we've been very busy developing the race car, we haven't yet spent time really refining the set-up on the car. Both of us now being in one car puts our package under a magnifying glass and makes us get the most out of what we've got.

"The endurance races, and where they have come in our first year as a team, have come at the right time for us to refine the car and to work together on the things we've been developing and the package we've got beneath us, to make it capable of better results than we've been getting in the past.

"We're very excited to come into the endurance races having dealt with our dramas and putting Ben Collins from the UK and Nathan together in the second Jack Daniel's Commodore is also exciting for us

"Heading to our first endurance races and learning things from everyone is great and we are really enjoying our racing."

QUESTION: The Phillip Island event is very unique and it's a tough one for the whole team with so much time on the track. Do you like the format?

"Last year was the first endurance race at Phillip Island in a long time and to be honest the event was a lot of fun," said Rick Kelly.

"I had a very competitive car there last year but we were a bit unlucky to finish back in seventh and that came down to a strategy call that I made in the car on the weather. I thought it was going to dry up so I stayed on slicks but unfortunately it cost us a shot at the win.

"So I'm eager to get back there and turn that around and get our first podium result.

"For me, it's very exciting to pair up with Todd and work towards a better result. We have both played a massive part in building the team and it would be awesome if we were able to get that podium together, rather that one of us getting that at a single driver event.

"We've both played such a big role in building this team that it would be great to both get that first podium for the whole team and celebrate it together and have both achieved that in the same Jack Daniel's Commodore.

"To be honest, we are pretty passionate about that so that's why we are working so hard to make Phillip Island and Bathurst the big events for us."

Ben Collins - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:

"I think testing at Winton a couple of times has been a brilliant preparation for Phillip Island," said Ben Collins.

"From what I've been told, Winton is particularly difficult in terms of how the car wants to be driven and I feel that I have got my head around that.

"So now we've done a lot of work at Winton we are at a certain level, which is a good start and now we can look to Phillip Island.

"That track is quite different and we have things like a different diff ratio at that place. A lot of the corners are not so much 'point and squirt' but more fast and flowing, which will hopefully suit me more and help me put on a good showing for Jack Daniel's Racing."

Nathan Pretty - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:

"Phillip Island will require a lot of consistency across the main race and also the whole weekend," said Nathan Pretty.

"Ben and I will get the chance to get even more laps at Phillip Island. We'll have to adjust a bit to that big, fast track and fingers crossed we will get a lot of laps in that race to prepare us for Bathurst.

"We can aim for a top 10 finish, depending on how the race pans out, how the weather is and all those sorts of variables.

"Ben has been good to work with and he obviously has a lot of experience in a lot of different cars.

"I've been looking forward to working with a 'Euro' - I've never worked with one before! I've needed a translator to help with some of the things he's said but it's probably no different than some of the slang we're throwing back at him.

"The foreign drivers always have a lot to adjust to, but Ben already seems to have a lot of understanding of how these cars work, in terms of having a lot of weight and power, but not much grip, from some of the cars he has driven.

"We've done a few different things to try and improve and he's been really good to work with so far."

-credit: kellyracing.com.au

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Ben Collins , Greg Murphy , Nathan Pretty , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jamie Whincup , Todd Kelly , Phillip Island