Rick Kelly vowed to pay Robbie Maddison back after the motorbike stunt star won the inaugural Red Bull Race Off at last year’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix, and on Saturday the V8 Supercar champion was as good as his word – but it was a close-run thing.
my shoulder dislocated real quick and then went back in - Maddo
After five enthralling laps of the Albert Park circuit, Kelly edged Maddison by one one-hundredth of a second across the line, with former Formula One ace David Coulthard making it a three-way photo finish by coming third, just 0.027secs behind Kelly. For Kelly, keeping an eye out for his fellow competitors served him well on a frantic final lap, which Maddison led until the last few metres.
“It was a good little battle, and it all depended on who was where and which one of us was coming out of a gravel trap,” Kelly laughed afterwards. “I think we all had a go at the front, and you had to keep an eye on the passenger side window to see who was coming out the sand trap at you.”
Maddison started from pole position and seemed to be the fastest driver out there, but several off-track excursions – and the odd bit of missing bodywork from his Renault Megane RS 250 – saw him regularly come back to the pack. He led for most of the last lap but had a wild moment through the gravel trap at Turn 14, the third-last corner, and that opened the door for Kelly to nab him at the chequered flag.
“I thought doing four wheels would be a bit safer than doing two wheels, but when you’ve got motocross injuries … when one of the boys hit me, my shoulder dislocated real quick and then went back in,” Maddison said. “We got a bit creative out there and had a lot of fun.”
Maddison said some contact with Kiwi drift racing star ‘Mad’ Mike Whiddett didn’t help his cause.
“Someone gave me a good punt – at least it didn’t damage the steering alignment. I think it was ‘Mad’ Mike, so I reckon I owe him one …”.
Coulthard has his own distractions, with the Scot receiving an untimely phone call halfway through the race on his mobile.
“My mother called me when I was on the way around – and I had to tell her I was a bit busy …,” the two-time Albert Park winner said.
Behind Coulthard in third came Whiddett and then rising Formula Ford star Samantha Reid, who led the race for quite some time until the frantic final lap. Three-time World Speedway champ Jason Crump rounded out the six-car field.
A second and final five-lap Red Bull Race Off will take place on Sunday afternoon at Albert Park.