Rick Kelly says his Nissan Motorsport team is in discussions with potential new sponsors following the departure of long term backer Jack Daniel’s.
Kelly says he’s excited about pushing forward working with a new sponsor of similar stature after the end the seven-year relationship with the liquor brand.
“For our team we’re in a much stronger position coming into next year than we were this time last year heading into the 2015 season,” Kelly told v8supercars.com.au.
The team is looking for a long-term primary sponsor for Kelly’s car rather than the rolling sponsorship model seen on James Moffat’s car and Todd Kelly’s until carsales.com.au committed from Sandown onwards.
Moffat’s replacement Dale Wood will bring some sponsorship to the team and Michael Caruso this year has run in the Nissan-backed Altima.
“We haven’t announced sponsors on a couple of them, but we are in a very strong position heading into next year compared to other years – so that gives us a chance to focus a lot of our sales energy on my car and getting a partner for that,” Kelly said.
“We are already in discussions with a couple of exciting prospects as well – so from that point of view we do head into next year in a reasonable condition.”
Kelly is optimistic about the opportunity this presents to work with another global brand and is particularly passionate about the commercial and marketing aspects of V8 Supercars.
“We’re now in the market looking for a naming rights sponsor for our car and with that we put a lot of focus on different brands we’d love to represent,” Kelly explained.
“When you look over the team so far, we’ve had the chance of building great marketing and activation plans with companies like Norton, Pepsi and Jack Daniel’s and it is a rewarding job.
“We’re on the hunt for, ideally, a company at that level that we can build a fantastic marketing plan for.
“We’re not in a position where we’ve got something we can announce straight away, but we’re certainly out on the hunt to try and find that next business partner we can work with.”
A long-term primary sponsor is the aim for Kelly’s car and the team is looking outside of the pool of existing sponsors in V8 Supercars.
“To bring a new company into the sport, you certainly need to spend the first year getting them used to the different activations and different plans you can put together and implement for them – and review and improve it each year to make sure it does kick goals,” he said.
“The best way to do that is long-term. The way we operate our team we certainly are very commercially driven and do, in my opinion, a very good job on that side of it. For us we’re looking at, if possible, partnering with someone on a longer term basis that we can build the plan around.”
Kelly is a former V8 Supercars champion and in addition to driving plays a part on the Channel 10 broadcasts.
He is the best placed of the Nissans this season, knocking on the door of the Championship top 10 and has achieved three podium results this season, including an incredible finish with David Russell on the Gold Coast.
All four Altimas have been going well, with three finishing in the top 10 at Phillip Island in Sunday’s 200km race, and Kelly agrees progress has been made.
“We’ve certainly made a good step forward in the last few month and that’s exciting for us that’s no doubt.
“Since we started the Nissan program we started lower down in the field … and we’ve had a great team of guys and girls that have worked very hard to continually improve.
“Every team in this sport is constantly improving, so for us to get to the front, we not only have to improve but we have to improve quicker than what they are.
“So far we’ve been able to achieve that. We’ve still got a little bit of time to go before we get to exactly where we need to be. But certainly heading out into the sponsorship market we can tell a very positive story that we are on our way up – the results are proving that.”