TODD KELLY TAKES RACE WIN BUT FAILURE MEANS SIXTH ON THE GRID Jack Daniel's Racing driver Todd Kelly has won the first of two races that determine the grid for tomorrow's L&H 500 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Victoria today. But...
TODD KELLY TAKES RACE WIN BUT FAILURE MEANS SIXTH ON THE GRID
Jack Daniel's Racing driver Todd Kelly has won the first of two races that determine the grid for tomorrow's L&H 500 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Victoria today.
But after the adulation of taking victory in the first race, a failure in the second race with brother Rick Kelly behind the wheel means the pair will start sixth for tomorrow's first endurance event for the season.
Todd Kelly qualified second for his race aboard the #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore and led away from the start of the 14-lap race, leading every circulation to take a popular win for the brothers' new team.
But in the second race, where Rick Kelly started from third place after another good qualifying performance, a bolt failure saw ballast in the left side of the car drag on the ground and create a shower of sparks underneath the car.
The Jack Daniel's Racing crew did a stellar job to fix the problem in time for Rick to rejoin the race and be classified a finisher, three laps behind race winner Mark Winterbottom.
The point gained by his 30th place finish are enough for the Kelly pairing to start from sixth position and with the pace shown today, the brothers still stand a great chance of a strong result tomorrow.
Ben Collins showed great potential to finish 13th in his race aboard the #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore, but Nathan Pretty was hit by another car at the start of his race, ending his day with damaged steering.
JACK DANIEL'S RACING QUOTEBOARD
Todd Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
"That was not what I was hoping to see in that race," said Todd Kelly.
"We were looking pretty good there and I thought it was all over.
"Rick came in and they managed to fix the drama and get him back out and I'm blown away that we're still starting sixth.
"It's not as bad as we thought it would be so we're still looking pretty good for tomorrow.
"It's a long race and sixth place is no drama. You can do a good job from there.
"We will get over that one and look forward to tomorrow."
QUESTION: What exactly was the problem? The crew did a fantastic job to work on a hot race car and fix it so quickly.
"The boys did a great job," said Todd Kelly.
"It broke a bolt that holds ballast in the car, so the ballast actually dropped down and was dragging on the track.
"Aaron (Zampese, mechanic) had the hot exhaust on one side and a rattle gun going flat out in his ear on the other side and got it all back together.
"They did a fantastic job and I think we just got back out in time to finish, so that's full credit to the guys to get us back to sixth."
AFTER RACE ONE WIN ...
"I just about 'teared up' on the cool-down lap there. That was one of the most emotional races of my career," said Todd Kelly.
"This is a car that we built and it's a Kelly Racing Commodore, and the amount of work that's gone in to get us to this point is huge.
"The boys have worked extremely hard. Just this week they were there until two in the morning a few nights in a row and you watch them do that but I haven't been able to give them a decent result for the year.
"So it's all worthwhile when you can do that and all that hard work and emotion builds up. Hopefully this is a bit of a turning point for us now and we've got our Jack Daniel's Commodore where we need it to be and we can even get more out of it and carry this for the rest of this year now.
"I think we are looking reasonable. From where Rick's qualified, if he can bring it home in a good spot I think we are looking pretty good. You couldn't get it off to a better start than what we have today.
"Only half the blokes in the field were out there, so that makes a bit of a difference, but certainly it's probably the most emotional race I've had with all the circumstances.
"The last time I drove a HRT car was here, but this probably tops that because it's our own show.
"We're all a little bit down that we haven't had a podium or a pole until this point of the year. We set our bar pretty high at the start of the year. The thing we always said was that we want to be in a position by the end of the year where we can win races. It's a long engineering and manufacturing process to get all the bits in the car, so we never said we were going to win first up.
"But even though we knew that, we were still always disappointed that we hadn't got a better result. So we're probably on schedule really for all the work we've done to the car and now the performance is coming on track as well. It's a just a matter of where we can get the car to from here at the next few events. All the equipment we've got at our fingertips is good enough to do the job."
Rick Kelly - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
"We've still got a lot of improving to do with the Jack Daniel's Commodore to make it good in a race," said Rick Kelly.
"But to be honest, that's great that we've got such a window to improve still, because we are pretty close to the front.
"There are probably one or two cars out there that have got better race pace and we've still got a fair bit of improving to do.
"If we do that we should be in with a shot tomorrow, it's just disappointing that that happened in our race. We need to go right over the car and make sure it's in good nick for tomorrow.
"It's good to get that bad luck out of the way in that race rather than the main race on Sunday."
Ben Collins - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
"I think we will be OK in the race," said Ben Collins.
"It's unfortunate that Nathan was taken out by a spinning car so that's put us right at the back at the start for tomorrow.
"But the car feels like it will be good on longer runs. That's what really matters, so hopefully we will cut through the field and get a good finish.
"There's a lot to take in and that Sprint race taught me a lot in managing the tyres going off. So hopefully we'll take that into tomorrow and that we will get better track position and better lap times.
"Every time I drive the car I'm learning more and it's been great learning and working with Rick and Todd as well. I'm gutted for their race. It's gone tit's up at the last minute, which is not what they deserved either, but hopefully both Jack Daniel's Commodores will come through tomorrow."
Nathan Pretty - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
"It's disappointing," said Nathan Pretty.
"Unfortunately that's what happens when you start so far down the back with all these other blokes.
"It's very disappointing because I think the Jack Daniel's Commodore is strong and we would have come through.
"Ben did a great job coming up to 13th, so I just had to accumulate some more points to start in the top 20.
"But unfortunately I was out on lap one but we will still have a good crack in the long race tomorrow."