Rick Kelly claims first race of Tasmania Triple Challenge 13 November 2004 -- Holden V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly shrugged off the disappointment of the last round on the Gold Coast and a careless driving charge to claim first race honours at...
Rick Kelly claims first race of Tasmania Triple Challenge
13 November 2004 -- Holden V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly shrugged off the disappointment of the last round on the Gold Coast and a careless driving charge to claim first race honours at the Tasmania Triple Challenge at Symmons Plains Raceway today.
The Kmart driver held off home town hope and championship leader Marcos Ambrose while Kelly's brother and Holden Racing Team driver Todd Kelly rounded out the top three.
The 21 year-old was found guilty of careless driving during last month's round at Indy by the V8 Supercar Stewards yesterday and fined $5,000 and lost 50 championship points.
But Kelly put all of that behind him, race strategy and a lightening fast pit stop by his crew early in the race putting him out at the front of the field with enough of a buffer that even a brief shower in the dying stages of the race wasn't enough for Ambrose to challenge him for the lead.
"There's no doubt it was a disappointing race at Indy but I've bounced back and it's great to take the win," Kelly said.
"The car was good and really it was the pitstop that determined the race, anyone who had a pitstop like that would've won the race and I'm grateful to my team for how quick they were.
"We'd stood out on the pit wall and discussed strategy and when the best time to pit was going to be and we stuck to the lap three pitstop from the start and it was the right decision.
"We focused on stopping on the mark and it was probably our quickest stop all year and it allowed me to maintain my lead through to the end.
"I was nervous when it started to rain, I had a reasonable gap but it was starting to get greasy towards the end so I had to back off a bit and I didn't want to do anything silly, I was just focusing on finishing the race."
Championship leader and Pirtek driver Ambrose moved another step closer to clinching back-to-back titles despite an uncharacteristic slow pitstop by the Stone Brothers Racing team and the inclement weather conditions.
"It was a very dangerous race for us out there, circumstances with the weather and a slow pit stop weren't great so I was very pleased with the result and we're one step closer to the championship," Ambrose said.
"Once the rain came I was super conservative trying to pass cars and not make any mistakes and just finish the race.
"I had a great start and going into the first corner I took the opportunity to make up some easy spots.
"I was trying to get the first laps out of the way and let the boys do their job in the pits but unfortunately we were a bit slow."
Kelly and Ambrose both dived into the pits on lap three but it was the Kmart crew that did the faster job, Ambrose rejoining the circuit in fourth place behind HRT's Todd Kelly and Castrol Racing Steve Richards.
But a passing move on Kelly by Richards on lap 22 saw both cars run wide and Ambrose took advantage of Richard's mistake to move through to second place.
"I seized the opportunity when Steve (Richards) made contact with Todd (Kelly) and I had just enough room to get through," Ambrose said.
The Tasmanian now needs to claim just 11 points over tomorrow's two races to claim Ford's first back-to-back title in the V8 Supercar era.
"The weekend's first priority is to finish every race, the second job is to seal the title and the third is to win the day," Ambrose said.
"If we can do at least one of those things I'll be very happy."
The V8 Supercars will contest two 42 lap races tomorrow.