Kelly reminded of Championship winning days

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 28/05/2015
  • By V8 Supercars

The feeling behind the scenes at Nissan Motorsport right now reminds team boss and driver Rick Kelly of the Championship winning years he spent at the HSV Dealer Team.

The reasons - the team is working incredibly well together, focusing on its strengths and punching above its weight.

The Nissans recorded two podium finishes at the last V8 Supercars event at Winton - Kelly's first top three finish since steering a Nissan Altima - and the 32-year old Jack Daniel's driver believes it's down to the crew's work behind the scenes.

"When you have a team that is successful with the people it's got, it's a really different atmosphere and you can stand back and just see the buzz coming out of the team," Kelly told v8supercars.com.au.

"For me now, what I'm starting to see from our own team ... reminds me back of the days when I was up the front as a driver and the environment and atmosphere we had as a team of guys.

"We won the Championship in '06 and '07 at the Dealer Team and we didn't have the biggest budget, but we had the best crew that worked together the best, and that's why we got ourselves to the front."

Back as a 23-year old Kelly won the V8 Supercars title in 2006, with then-teammate Garth Tander backing up the result the following year, both in spectacular fashion at Phillip Island for HSVDT.

While the cars were run out of the Clayton workshop and the team was effectively Holden Racing Team's sister team, with some factory backing, the licences were owned by John and Margaret Kelly, Rick and Todd's parents - those RECS now underpin two Altimas (Rick's still with the #15) since the brothers embarked on running their own team in 2009, which became a factory Nissan operation from the 2013 season.

Kelly described his podium finish as a "refreshing change" and as a team co-owner - focused on the commercial side, while Todd covers the racing side - emphasised how they have tried to emulate the success they had experienced with factory Holden teams in their own organisation.

"[Todd and I] are at work ...every day busily doing our best to get our team to the front in V8 Supercars.

"We've both been with teams in the past that have had success and, I guess, know what it takes from that point of view. And we've worked with our team to try and generate that success under our own banner.

"We've got the best guys we've ever had in our team right now and they've really started to bond together well. The atmosphere here internally is as strong as it's ever been and I can see that now reflected in the results."

Working with a new engineer this season in George Commins - along with data engineer Giovanni Columbo, a combination Kelly is pleased with - the Jack Daniel's racer also noted Scott Sinclair's presence as General Manager of Racing as having a big impact on the group.

Sinclair joined the squad for the 2014 season from the Holden Racing Team, and the Nissan groupimplemented more personnel changes this year in search of further improvement, after the best placed Nissan finished 10th in last year's title fight,with highlights of podium finishes at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast 600 last season.

"There were no issues with anything last year, but we are in a performance business and, for me, we need to constantly look at what we're doing - we're reviewing things all the time and changing things as we see fit to try and force our way forward in the standings," Kelly said.

"We came up with our opinion of what we need to do and made some changes and it's been helpful. It's just freshened things up a bit and forced us to think outside the box.

"And it shows we're not scared to make changes if we need to - we're not scared to do anything provided it's going to ... get us stronger results. We're here to do whatever it takes."

While Kelly's reflection on the podium breakthrough was mostly focused on the team, he did acknowledge it as a personal achievement also.

"It's just a reward for all the work I've done, and a good example of why not to give up," he said simply.

"Over the last three years I still put as much effort as I could into my driving and my fitness and everything else, so if I had've dropped the ball on those sorts of things, when I had the opportunity to get up the front I would've been restricted.

"It was exciting - it is good to be able to do that, but hopefully it's just one of many [podiums].

"It's certainly head down backside up trying to progress our team as quickly as we can. It's one podium but we hunt for many."

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