André Heimgartner blazed through the field in the opening race of the Winton SuperSprint. After a difficult qualifying where bad timing with the weather and André’s flying lap put the Kiwi towards the back of the field for the start of this afternoon’s race. However, an early pit stop strategy and clear air saw the Plus Fitness #7 Altima rocket thirteen places to eighth by the end of the race.
For the rest of the Kelly crew it was a difficult race. Garry Jacobson qualified the Rabble.club Racing #3 in eighth place – easily Garry’s best qualifying result in Supercars to date, however he was taken out by another driver just twelve laps into his campaign which put him on the back foot for the remainder of the race.
Rick Kelly’s Castrol Racing entry started showing the same handling traits that held him back early on in the season which made the car difficult to drive for much of the day.
Team Harvey Norman’s Simona De Silvestro had a tough race too, copping a couple of hits from other drivers. One whack was hard enough to make her spin out on the pit straight.
Kelly Racing Team quotes
André Heimgartner, #7 Plus Fitness Racing : “We had a bit of bad luck in practice and qualifying. We just got the red flag as I was coming down the straight in practice which meant that time didn’t count and we had to do Q1. We saved our flyer until the very end of the first qualifying session and unfortunately it started raining so we had no grip so the qualifying didn’t really go to plan. We had good car speed today during the race, I was able to make up some good positions by being fast and somehow we managed to keep the tyre wear down. I thought I’d lose a few more spots towards the end but overall really happy with where we finished. The early pit stop strategy really helped with getting me into some clear air which allowed us to use the speed to our advantage which is what we needed to do otherwise we just would have followed everyone around.”
Rick Kelly, #15 Castrol Racing : “In the first practice session we finished fifth and the car felt really good at that point. Then Q2 didn’t go our way, it was wet and you had to do your fastest lap on the last lap, I got into a good gap and unfortunately we just didn’t have the car or the driving to put us where we needed to be. In the race we just completely lacked race pace unfortunately. We’ve obviously had a few issues this year with the handling of the car and the traits that it has produced and here today it produced those same traits we saw at the start of the year which makes it difficult to drive and sucks the pace out of the car. We need to look at it and see why it was so difficult.”
Garry Jacobson, #3 Rabble.club Racing : “I refuse to be negative today and take the shine off qualifying – first time I’ve been in Q2 or Q3 – and qualified eighth. I’m stoked with my effort in the rain, I’ve always enjoyed driving in the wet and to get to P8 I thought was a great effort from the team. In the race I got a pretty good start and at one point I was in P6, I felt like I held my own in those first twelve laps and then I got taken out by Lee Holdsworth. Part of it is not having the pace in the dry which I think can frustrate people who are behind me, I was holding him up and that’s racing. Then after that I had a bit of an incident with Le Brocq so I was in the wars a little bit to be honest but I definitely gained some valuable experience out of it during the opening laps being able to race alongside guys like Shane Van Gisbergen. So still plenty of positives to take away from today.”
Simona De Silvestro, #78 Team Harvey Norman: “It was a bit frustrating for me today, up the back there was quite a lot of push and shove which was a bit disappointing. I got spun onto the grass by another driver pretty early on in the race. We were able to get some clear air and at some points during the race the car was quite quick but being such a short race with no safety car there wasn’t really much opportunity to make up time. We will see how we go tomorrow.”
Press release Kelly Racing