Rick Kelly is looking forward to a strong 2012 V8 Championship season.. that campaign will kick off this weekend at WintonBy Angela Townsend
V8 Supercars Championship driver Rick Kelly told the Ensign he was excited to be heading back to the Winton home test track after a long, testing year.
The 2006 V8 Supercar Champion and the younger of the Kelly brothers, Rick teamed up with brother Todd for his fourth straight season in 2012 for Jack Daniel’s Racing.
Kelly said it has been a tougher year than most for the Jack Daniels Racing team, based in Melbourne, due to ‘‘a whole lot of reasons’’.
‘‘Winton is always good — we’re really looking forward to getting back on track,’’ he said.
However, it will be the last time the Jack Daniel team sits behind the wheel of a Holden in Victoria, having unveiled its 2013 season Nissan Altima two weeks ago.
‘‘We haven’t had the chance to head to Winton in the Nissan yet,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘It’s just been unveiled — but we are very satisfied with the way it’s come up.
‘‘We’ve been overseas to Abu Dhabi and it is very exciting to be heading back to our test track to perform in front of a home crowd.’’
The final race in Sydney from November 30 to December 2 wraps up the 2012 V8 Supercars Championship.
Stepping into the Holden Young Lions program, Kelly was Rookie of the Year in 2002, taking over Todd’s seat at Kmart Racing for the following season.
His first round win came at Bathurst in 2003 in partnership with Greg Murphy and he took his first career pole at Sandown in 2004. Kelly partnered Garth Tander at the team a year later after again winning Bathurst with Murphy.
In 2006 his consistency was unbeatable — despite only winning one individual race all season, Kelly took the title in controversial circumstances after a last race clash with Craig Lowndes at Phillip Island.
He finished fourth in the championship in 2007 and, with the departure of Garth Tander, took the mantle of team leader at the HSV Dealer Team in 2008.
In 2009 he and brother Todd took the plunge to establish their own team and a double podium result at the Phillip Island 300 showed the team’s development was on the path to success.
The two-time Bathurst victor has continued to show his consistency in V8 Supercar racing, finishing in the top 10 in each of the past three years he’s driven for his own team.
Apart from his rookie season in 2002, Kelly has never finished outside the top 10 in the V8 Supercars Championship. WIth Kelly currently sitting in 14th place on 1606 driver points, he has his work cut out for the last two races of the 2012 season.
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