Sandown: Qualifying, Shootout report

Rick Kelly dominates V8 Supercar Championship Series at Sandown Youngster Rick Kelly mastered treacherous conditions at Sandown International Motor Raceway to record his first V8 Supercar Championship Series pole position in the top 10...

Rick Kelly dominates V8 Supercar Championship Series at Sandown

Youngster Rick Kelly mastered treacherous conditions at Sandown International Motor Raceway to record his first V8 Supercar Championship Series pole position in the top 10 Shootout at the Betta Electrical 500 in Melbourne today.

Kelly, who will again share his car with Greg Murphy in the first long distance race of the season, said this first pole position had been a long time coming and was fresh on the back of topping qualifying at the last round at Oran Park.

"It's awesome... I've been waiting for this for three years," the 21-year-old said after his win. "I think it is harder to get a pole in this series than a race win, and hopefully this will open it up for us now."

Kelly's lap was run near the end of a wet day on a moderately dry track with damp patches and oil from a previous engine blow-up.

"I thought I was being a bit of a pansy again, I jumped on the picks into Turn 1 and had to coast a bit, so I thought Mark (Skaife) and Paul (Morris) would be able to go better."

Kelly said he will start in the #51 Kmart Commodore tomorrow before handing the car over to Murphy, who added that the risk to both drivers championships was well worth the risk of running both drivers in the car.

A failure to finish will almost certainly remove both drivers from title contention.

"We were in a similar position last year, but it is hard to split the drivers who run through the whole series," Murphy said. "The best option is to put both of us in the car, we want to win the races not just finish."

Murphy and Kelly were in a position to win the race last year before a pitlane crash dragged them out of the running.

Current series champion Marcos Ambrose said he was happy with his second on the grid.

"I went out on my out lap and looked at where all the water was, and then it was dry the next time I came around. I would have been happy with fourth with those conditions, it was really biased towards the runners at the end," Ambrose said.

"We are very confident we can deliver tomorrow."

Ambrose will share his car with the winner of the final round of the Konica Minolta Series, Greg Ritter.

Paul Morris was third in the shootout after dominating qualifying. Sharing his car the weekend with Allan Gurr, Morris topped the combined qualifying session by more than a second, and may have done the same to the shootout but for an error in the second corner.

"It was probably my best chance so far (for his first pole position), but it was not to be," Morris said after his run.

"I locked a brake into Turn 2 and ran wide and almost got onto the grass, and then I just had to tighten the belts and go for it. I saw the time and it was either go off or get on the front row.

"I would have preferred a bit more rain; it was phenomenal in the wet. I don't think we've quite got the engine to stick with the faster guys in the dry, but if it rains tomorrow, look out."

Mark Skaife struggled around his shootout lap to claim fourth on the grid, just holding out a resurgent Craig Lowndes in his FPR Falcon.

Steve Johnson in the Shell Helix Falcon was next from Jason Bright and Paul Dumbrell in his first ever run in a top 10 shootout. Jason Bargwanna and Owen Kelly in the second Shell Helix Falcon rounded out the runners in the shootout.

The Betta Electrical 500 starts at 1pm tomorrow in weather conditions that are expected to be only marginally better than today, with a top temperature of 14 predicted with showers throughout the day likely.

-avesco-

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Series Supercars
Drivers Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jason Bargwanna , Paul Morris , Paul Dumbrell , Owen Kelly , Greg Ritter , Steve Johnson