Rick Kelly determined to take positives
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Rick Kelly insisted that there were more positives than negatives to take from a day that included a pole position and a heavy crash for the former champion.
Scoring his first pole in two years, Kelly led the early laps before dropping several places with a slow pitstop and eventually suffering a stuck throttle that saw him crash at Turn 11.
The chain of events appeared a cruel blow for the 34-year-old, who remains without a win in almost six years.
Kelly scored two Bathurst wins and a championship early in his career but has endured a tough slog as an owner/driver of the Nissan squad alongside brother Todd.
Although today saw a prime opportunity to return to the top of the podium slip away, Kelly was in a relaxed mood when speaking in the paddock post-race.
“You’ve just got to focus on the things you can control and I couldn’t control what happened today, as everyone saw because I hit the fence,” he laughed.
“There’s nothing to be too disheartened about apart from making sure that whatever caused the problem doesn’t happen again.
“We aren’t fighting for a championship, we’re fighting for some great results.
“I’m sad we couldn’t bring home a result to boost the confidence of everyone at Nissan Motorsport because I think that right now that’s what we need, but we’ve got tomorrow to achieve that now and that’s what we’ll turn our focus to once we’ve fixed the car.”
Kelly said the team was not immediately aware of what caused the throttle to stick, but thinks it is unrelated to issues suffered during practice.
“It was tough to crack open (the throttle) yesterday and we did a lot of work in between sessions and a lot of work overnight to rectify that and it was brand new,” he said.
“We haven’t gotten to the bottom of it just yet, but I’m pretty confident it’s not the same thing.
“As every team is we’re trying to move forward at a million mile an hour which means you’re testing things at a race weekend,” he added when quizzed if a ‘new’ part had failed.
“We’re in a position where we need to do that. I’m not sure if it’s related to that or not but we’ll find out.”
When asked if qualifying was a confidence boost given the length of time since his last pole, Kelly philosophically described it as “a good lesson for everyone in motorsport”.
“The job I did in today’s car to get pole position, I’ve done better than that and have qualified 15th with getting the most out of the car,” he said.
“That’s what motorsport is. People think motorsport is the drivers getting the results. We’re the star of the show but it’s the team around you.
“You just need to acknowledge how big a team sport it is and that’s why we spend a lot of time working as a group to go better and when we do get a good result acknowledge that it’s not the driver, it is those guys behind the scenes giving you the equipment that you need.
“Do I doubt myself? Probably not at the moment. George (Commins, engineer) and I have been working so hard on qualifying and making the most out of what we’ve got.
“There’s been times when I haven’t done that but there have been a lot of times when I have.
“You look at the data and look at the sector times and go 'that’s all we had in the car and we managed to get it out'.
“If you come in after qualifying and can say that you got within a tenth of the total capability of that car as a driver then you’re doing a good job."