Kelly’s golden opportunity

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 17/10/2016
  • By Kassie Gadeke - Ben Nightingale

Rick Kelly is focusing on this week’s Gold Coast race as an opportunity for he and co-driver Russell Ingall, as he pushes to get over his late race accident at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, just over a week ago.

The 2006 champ found the wall at Mount Panorama for the first time at the track in 15 years, after being plagued with issues throughout the day. A radio communications issue hurting early on – and ultimately contributed to Kelly and Russell Ingall’s end to the day in the wall.

Two-time Bathurst winner Kelly revealed he spent so much time trying to help sort the problem while out of the car, he didn’t take care of himself. A cool suit failure during his triple stint, and not enough lunch while he was helping the crew meant he was too fatigued to keep his Nissan straight at the end of the day.

“It’s probably one of the hardest ones to put behind you because it means so much,” he told supercars.com.

“On the day, we had a handful of things go wrong and unfortunately for me I let my frustrations get the better of me because you see that dream slipping away and it’s hard to comprehend that. Everyone loves racing at Bathurst but it’s one of the most painful places to go to and not have success as well.

“This year certainly wasn’t exempt from that, it was tough leaving and it takes a week to get past the events of the day and move on to the next one, whereas a normal round you’d take a day or two and move on, bounce back ready to fight on.”

Another part of his disappointment was losing his ‘Mr Reliable’ tag after such strong outings previously at Mount Panorama.

“I’ve gone to Bathurst for 15 years prior to this year without touching the fence which was a great thing for me. I was a guy who brought the car home every time and now that long journey comes to an end because I crashed a car of my own accord, there’s nothing that went wrong to create the accident except my own input, so you’ve got to be disappointed personally with that,” he said.

“At that point in the race I was a bit done, to be honest – I’d had a very long day of issues and didn’t take in enough nutrition before the race and in between my stints with fixing other issues, so by the end of the triple stint without a cool suit and without taking anything in, I was pretty under the weather.

“In those last couple of laps leading into that [crash] I started to become less accurate with my driving and started to get into ‘limp home’ mode to get to the end … at that point in the race with my fatigue I wasn’t accurate enough.”

The Castrol Gold Coast 600 garnered a strong result for Kelly last year, when he and then-co-driver David Russell earned a second place finish on Sunday after a smart strategy call by the team and fuel-conserving drive from Kelly. 

Sitting 13th in the Championship, there’s nothing more the Sengled driver wants than to make amends for Bathurst – but he knows it won’t be easy. 

“I think we’ve got a good opportunity at Gold Coast, but as we’ve seen from Bathurst, and the Gold Coast in previous years, so much goes on in a weekend with people crashing and different conditions in the race that can either throw you towards the front or throw you into the fence or into a DNF,” he said.

“After our result at Bathurst I just want to get out and get a really solid result to finish off the season of endurance for us. 

“I’d love to grab a podium result with Russell before we finish the endurance races off and that’s definitely our focus, but the short term focus is to recover from all the little difficulties we had at Bathurst and make sure we don’t make those mistakes again.”

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