Kelly sees potential

  • 16/11/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Nissan Motorsport co-owner and driver Rick Kelly is excited to welcome Dale Wood for 2016 and likens the signing to picking up James Moffat for the 2013 season. 

Wood will steer the Altima after Moffat’s decision to switch to Volvo for 2016 and beyond, and Kelly believes the 32-year old has plenty of potential and versatility to off the four car factory team.

“We consider Dale to be a driver that hasn’t yet reached his potential and look forward to working with him to achieve that,” Kelly said. 

“He has the raw speed to be able to achieve results. After all, you don’t get a podium in this game, or qualify third at Bathurst, by accident.”

Having won the 2013 V8 Supercars Dunlop Series title, Wood found a home in the main game with Brad Jones Racing the following year and promptly finish on the podium at the third round at Winton. He qualified in the top 10 at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 to appear in the ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout later that year.

Given Moffat shifted to Nissan for his third full-time season in 2013 with the same best Championship result (21st), a best race finish of fourth and best qualifying fifth, Kelly believes the numbers are very comparable.

Moffat went on to win his first V8 Supercars race with Nissan at Winton in his first year and improved his best Championship result to 14th last year.

“When we signed James Moffat to our team at the start of 2012, it was a similar situation, in that we saw him as a driver who, entering his third full-time season, had the potential to achieve strong results in the right environment,” Kelly said.  

“James went on to score his first podium and win, his first pole position and his first Bathurst 1000 podium with our team.

“We believe that the same opportunity and potential now lies ahead of Dale as he enters what will be his third full-time season in the V8 Supercars Championship.”

With a known quirky sense of humour and outgoing personality, Kelly said a number of aspects made Wood a strong fit for the fourth Nissan seat.

“To be a successful professional driver in today’s world, of course being capable behind the wheel is the key characteristic, but there are many other aspects that are also very important,” Kelly explained.  

“These include the ability to work in a team environment, being an asset to our business partners, and presenting well in front of the media, to mention just a few, and we feel these are all areas where Dale will be an asset to Nissan Motorsport.”

Wood believes the shift to Nissan will help him climb up the grid next year.

“I see this as an important step in my career to move up the grid and help develop myself as a driver,” he said.

The announcement now leaves an empty seat at Brad Jones Racing, with the team yet to confirm its line-up for 2015 with the departure of Fabian Coulthard to DJR Team Penske for next season.

Others still to confirm drivers include Prodrive, Super Black Racing and Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport.   

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