TODD AND RICK KELLY SURVEY TOWNSVILLE FROM SEA AND AIR Jack Daniel's Racing team-mates Todd and Rick Kelly have surveyed Townsville from both the sea and air today in preparation for this weekend's Sucrogen Townsville 400. Todd Kelly inspected...
TODD AND RICK KELLY SURVEY TOWNSVILLE FROM SEA AND AIR
Jack Daniel's Racing team-mates Todd and Rick Kelly have surveyed Townsville from both the sea and air today in preparation for this weekend's Sucrogen Townsville 400.
Todd Kelly inspected the Reid Park circuit in the Red Baron seaplane today, taking to the skies in the local icon. Kelly is himself a pilot but assumed the unfamiliar position of passenger for today's flight.
Meanwhile brother Rick Kelly experienced Townsville by sea aboard a V8 powered 500 horsepower drag racing boat.
Like his brother, Rick Kelly was an uncomfortable passenger today, giving the two time Bathurst winner the strange sensation of travelling at high speed backwards in the observer's seat.
Rick steers the pair's ski racing boats, which this season have taken wins at both the Southern 80 and South Australian state ski racing titles when the brothers from Mildura, Victoria have had time between V8 Supercar commitments to race on water rather than bitumen.
The activities today ended with a race between the seaplane and the drag boat just off the Townsville foreshore, giving each Kelly brother an up-close look at the other's ride for the morning.
Jack Daniel's Racing is seeking redemption of sorts this weekend in Townsville after a below-par weekend at the inaugural event in far north Queensland last season.
A double DNF result on the Sunday masked the improved pace of the Jack Daniel's Commodores around the 2.86 kilometre circuit, but triggered a resurgence from the first year team in the second half of 2009.
Following a solid performance last month in Darwin, Todd and Rick Kelly are now confident that they can deliver a strong performance this weekend in Townsville as they search for the team's first podium finish of 2010.
JACK DANIEL'S RACING QUOTEBOARD
TODD KELLY - #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
On riding in the Red Baron sea plane ...
"Running our own team does have its advantages now -- Rick and I can write our own permission slips," said Todd Kelly.
"I've been in boats all my life and flown plane for a while now.
"But it was great to experience both at the same time in the Red Baron seaplane today.
"I'm not usually a great passenger as I prefer to be at the controls, but it was a really great ride and it's a neat little plane.
"It gave me a great view of the track and a unique look at Townsville.
"At the end it was really cool to be only a matter of feet from the boat seeing Rick bouncing off the waves.
"We've been so busy working at the race team and getting things ready for this event that getting up here early and doing some cool activities is something of a holiday."
On the Sucrogen Townsville 400 ...
"We had a lot of little things that hurt us in Townsville last year, which shouldn't happen this year," said Todd Kelly.
"The areas where we were really weak in Townsville last year are areas that we have made huge gains in since then in terms of improving our cars.
"I'm quietly confident that we will be miles better this weekend compared to last year, especially in qualifying.
"After Townsville last year we had a really good second half of the season in 2009 and I think it's shaping up to be the same this year.
"Darwin was a bit of a turning point last month. We found a few things with my car that should take us forward and the things we do to tune our Jack Daniel's Commodores have just clicked. The specifications of the car are more stable now after trying lots of things in the first part of the season.
"We all left Townsville very disappointed last year. Even though it was a fantastic event, we didn't perform that way we wanted to there last year. I think we have as good a chance as anyone to stand on the podium up there this year.
"Where I am in the championship points and the job that I've done for Jack Daniel's and all our sponsors just isn't good enough. I can do the job, there is no issue there, we just need to be able to get it right and I think we have now.
"If you look at the tracks that we go well at, we've basically got all our weakest tracks out of the way in the first half of the season.
"We've got Townsville, where we need to put things right, then we've got Phillip Island, Bathurst, Gold Coast, Tassie and Sandown, where we've always got fast cars.
"So I'm looking for us to have an extremely strong second half of the season, starting in Townsville this weekend."
RICK KELLY - #15 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore:
On riding in the 500-horsepower drag racing boat ...
"I was a little nervous about sitting backwards as I almost always doing the driving in our race boats," said Rick Kelly.
"But I actually had a lot of fun out there powering through the rough water.
"It was awesome to have the seaplane right next to us, practically almost right on top of us there when we had a bit of a race towards the end.
"It was a pleasant change of scenery ahead of what is a very busy event.
"The boat had a lot of power and rode the waves surprisingly well. Now I know what Woody (Dale Wood), the observer in our ski race boat, has to go through."
On the Sucrogen Townsville 400 ...
"Last year around the Townsville event was an interesting time for us," said Rick Kelly.
"We were still very new as a team and we were trying a lot of new and very different components on the race cars.
"So that complicated things for us. We're all excited to go back there now with the Jack Daniel's Commodores that we now know quite well.
"At most places we go to now we're generally in that fourth to sixth region.
"The other important note about Townsville is that it's the last round before we start sharing our car with an endurance driver.
"I think the three endurance events are going to throw a massive curve ball into the championship because it could mean that coming out of the Gold Coast, a James Courtney or a Jamie Whincup could drop well down in the points.
"It's going to be a big difference this year with different drivers, in some cases inexperienced guys, alongside top drivers fighting in the top 10 of the championship.
"In our cars we've been hovering from fourth to 10th all year and it's now time to move into the top three and to get as many points as we can leading into the endurance events where anything could happen.
"Hopefully we can pop out the other end of the endurance phase of the season after the Gold Coast a lot further up the order and I think that the championship top 10 could look a lot different after the endurance races."
-source: kelly racing