Mechanical problems ended the chances for the Kelly Racing team at Bathurst 1000 on the weekend. The team was off to a steady start, pacing itself in the midfield in the longest race of the season. After a long stint from Owen Kelly, Rick Kelly jumped behind the wheel, using strong car speed and brilliant pit strategy to move into the top 10.
“I was out with a lot of the co-drivers and we plucked them off until we got right up there,” said Rick Kelly. “We had a short stop and a different strategy to everyone.”
“It put us fourth and our pace was pretty good as well. We were quicker than the guys in front but the Jamie Whincup fiasco cost us a lot of time and I went from fourth to ninth.
As the final round of pit stops approached Rick Kelly was in fourth place and poised to challenge for a podium finish in the final stint, but he was one of several cars delayed by Jamie Whincup’s ailing car, which was limping across the top of the mountain. Falling to ninth, Rick Kelly was denied the chance to challenge for a top five finishing position with an oil leak in the rear of the car. After two pit stops to fix the problem, the #15 Jack Daniel’s Commodore was two laps down, finishing in 22nd place.
Rick Kelly falls to sixth in the 2011 V8 Supercars Championship after the weekend’s finish, entering the Armor All Gold Coast 600 on the Surfers Paradise streetcircuit in Queensland in two weeks time on October 21-23.
“It's hurt our championship considerably. We've dropped to sixth now and it’s going to be very difficult in the last four events to get back to somewhere more respectable. It's very disappointing,” said Rick.
“On the other side of things the Kelly Racing garage has done an awesome job all weekend. For Murph to qualify on pole and walk away with a podium is an outstanding achievement for our race team and full credit to Allan (Simonsen), Murph and the whole team.”
Garth Tander and Nick Percat won the Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama ahead of Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife, with Kelly Racing’s #11 Pepsi Max Commodore of Greg Murphy and Allan Simonsen grabbing third place after scoring pole yesterday.
Check out Rick Kelly's final blog below..
The cars and drivers take our positions on pit lane ahead of the race start:
Let's add it up! That's 29 cars, 161 laps and one enormous, treacherous mountain on the start grid...
And we're off! It was a relatively clean start void of any serious incidents.
The clouds were looking ominousand they definitely came into play as the race progressed.
The rew pour over telemetry and also keep a close eye on what the weather is doing.
In fact, the changing weather was a major talking point all day. It's tough being at the mercy of something we have absolutely no control over.
We had a driver change during the first round of pit stops. I gave Owen Kelly a helping hand into the drivers seat:
I signal to the pit crew that co-driver Owen is strapped into the drivers seat and ready to go.
I chat with my chief mechanic following my opening stint.
I keep a steady eye on my co-driver Owen from the garage with the rest of the crew.
And it's interview time... again!
I'm back in the car and driving the wheels off the no 15 car to get us from 15th to 5th place.
...but an over-fill of oil causes a leak and the team is called in to deal with it. This spells the end of our podium dreams.
We lost crucial moments and re-enter the race down in 22nd position, with less than 20 laps to go. It's such a disappointing end to what was shaping up to be a fight for a podium. My face says it all as I walk back to the garage from parc ferme.