21 MAY 2020
Rick Kelly has successful night in Mini-Mustang simulator
Last night the BP Supercars Allstars Eseries made its oval track debut at two iconic NASCAR circuits in North America, including the legendary Daytona Speedway. While oval tracks may seem simple, they are hugely challenging and require drafting, plus a whole lot of unique race craft to be quick and make overtakes.
First up the team had qualifying at Charlotte Speedway – a full oval course which requires a tow for most or all of the lap to get the quickest time and the tyres go off after just one lap, making it extremely tricky to bank a solid qualifying position. Rick Kelly managed to have his best qualifying session to date in his new chassis #002 simulator claiming P15, while André Heimgartner couldn't find a tow in the NED Whisky Mustang and qualified P19 for race one.
The team then headed to Daytona Speedway for qualifying on the 'Roval' – a road course and oval layout of Daytona which is used for the legendary Rolex Daytona 24 hour race. While more similar to the tracks we're used to, the majority of the lap is still oval and still requires a tow to get the best lap time. André was able to improve and take P14, while Rick struggled and landed in P24.Race one at the Charlotte oval was the first with a rolling start and it was action packed from start to finish with several lead changes. It didn't take long for Rick and André to meet up on track for a tow, André was able to slingshot into the ten, before a massive incident took out several top runners allowing André to take P5 in the NED Whisky Mustang.
Rick Kelly also had a solid race in the Castrol Racing Mustang and made good use of his qualifying position to take P12 – equal to his best Eseries result.
Race two saw the team back at Daytona with another rolling start, short format, one stop race. Both drivers were able to have a clean and drama free race with André taking P13 and Rick P23 – both drivers moving up two places on their qualifying positions.
Race three was a longer format, two-stop event at Daytona with drivers starting where they finished the previous race. Rick and André were able to get a great start and pick up a couple of places. André finished P10 while a system glitch recorded Rick as P26 when he actually crossed the line in P17.
Next week the Eseries heads to Imola in Italy and home of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos.
Rick Kelly, #15 Castrol Racing
"Last night we fired up sim chassis #002 for its first event, I really enjoyed building it during the week but the downside is I had no time at all to practice the tracks so I really wasn't expecting to be much good!"
"We got pretty lucky in qualifying at Charlotte and I was able to get behind another car and put in a top-15 lap on one of my first laps which was good, I wasn't able to improve on it but it was enough to take my best qualifying result of the Eseries so far, then we kept out of trouble to finish P12, so maybe we should do more oval track racing."
"At Daytona we kind of went back to our old ways and qualified at the back of the field, didn't have too good of a race there but definitely felt more comfortable in the sim having a body around me and feel like I was able to race more with the other guys so definitely improving. The last race there was a bit of a technical glitch because we actually had a pretty good race and thought I came P17 but the computer recorded it as P26 for some reason!"
André Heimgartner, #7 NED Racing
"We had a solid night, it was a pretty big learning curve to get your head around the oval track and all of the drafting and everything. Qualifying was particularly tricky because you ideally needed to be close enough to the car in front to get a tow but not so close that you're in their aero wash and have no front end grip for the turns."
"So it was extremely tricky plus everyone was playing games with timing their laps because no one wanted to be the lead car. We ended up not qualifying too well and when you're outside the ten for the start you're a big risk of being taken out so I just needed to stay out of the carnage and have clean races which we managed to do."
"The first race we got quite lucky and capitalised on a big accident right towards the end which was really exciting and we got fifth which is my best Eseries result. The two races at Daytona were also good fun and we got some solid results, I wouldn't mind doing more of the oval stuff, it's interesting and requires a different way of thinking."