The master and the apprentice

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 15/08/2016
  • By Kassie Gadeke

Bathurst winner Todd Kelly is trusting a 21-year old rookie with his Nissan Motorsport Altima at the toughest three events of the Supercars season.

Matt Campbell will juggle racing his Carrera Cup Porsche – in which he leads the championship, ahead of former full-time Supercars driver Alex Davison – with the carsales Nissan at all three endurance events this year.

With Nissan Motorsport utilising its last test day for the season, the four-car group hit Winton Motor Raceway today with a focus on enduros with co-drivers Russell Ingall (driving with Rick Kelly), Dean Fiore (Michael Caruso) and David Russell (Dale Wood) getting plenty of track time. 

Campbell has had the chance to steer the Nissan at previous test days and the half-hour co-driver sessions at Winton and Queensland Raceway, but today was the time to get comfortable.

“It has been a productive day,” Campbell told supercars.com. 

“Some pit stop practice, driver change practice and what not to familiarise myself a little bit more. I’m feeling really comfortable inside the car now, feeling more at home which is nice.

"I’m really looking forward to the enduros now.”

Physically he fits well with Kelly and doesn’t require a seat insert, which makes driver changes easier.

A mechanical drama held up car #7 for some time out on the circuit, but Campbell said it didn’t halt the team’s progress.  

“It’s all fixed now and the boys did a great job to get it back out,” he said.

“We lost a little bit [of time] but overall I don’t think it was too bad.”

Campbell will steer the car again at the team’s ride day on Monday following the Red Rooster Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprint, with Sandown to follow from September 16-18. 

“I’m very excited but a little bit nervous at the same time as well – it’s a big step up for myself having never raced in the category before.

“Obviously it’s a new car for me as well so I’m taking it all in and hopefully we can go alright.”

While teams traditionally run their pre-enduro test during the weeks leading up to Sandown, team boss Scott Sinclair believed giving themselves more time to learn from the day may help this time around.

Nissan Motorsport all four cars Winton test 2016 August

“We identified a few things we could improve last year and this was one of them, the way we approached the test day,” he said.

“So we’ve just basically tweaked the program a little bit and giving everyone a hit-out today well out from the enduros.

“A lot more time [was] spent with the co-drivers and a lot more emphasis put on the team pit stops that kind of stuff. We’ve also got other development items going on the background as you always do at a test day, but a lot heavier focus on enduro stuff this time around.”

With the Nissans improving on-track, both drivers and team owners Todd and Rick Kelly have said it was now about tidying up the one per centers behind the scenes to make sure they can capitalise when the cars are strong.  

“We certainly identified a number of things we need to improve, but that’s why we’re doing it so far out to have time to react,” Sinclair said. 

“We’ve learnt a lot about some procedural stuff we can improve and all that kind of stuff to make the enduros better for us this time around.”

Prodrive Racing Australia was also on track today, but went the other way with its test, focusing on its main drivers, apart from co-driver Richie Stanaway who won’t be available for the enduro test closer to Sandown.

Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Newsletter