18 OCT 2020
Strong finish to the Bathurst 1000 for Kelly Racing
Kelly Racing has successfully completed the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, bringing the 2020 Supercars Championship season to an end. After over 100 days on the road, away from the team's Victorian-based headquarters and away from families and loved ones, the team lined up for the Supercars season finale.
After qualifying for the Great Race back on Friday afternoon, the Castrol Racing team started from P20 on the grid, while the NED Whisky crew lined up on the grid in position fourteen. Co-driver Dylan O'Keeffe started the race in the #7 NED Mustang, while Rick Kelly commenced his 20th Bathurst 1000 in his Castrol Mustang.
Both drivers were able to make a clean start to the race, however Rick begun experiencing issues with the clutch in his car in the early stages of the race. He tried to manage the issue on the run, and went as far as clutch-less downshifting before returning to the garage. The team spent approximately twenty laps rectifying an issue with the clutch master slave and replacing the clutch on the back of the engine. With the issue resolved, Dale Wood was then able to take to the seat for his first laps of the race, several laps off the lead.
In André Heimgartner's first stint in the NED Mustang he was one of the quickest drivers on track. By utilising the undercut strategy and maximising the safety car interventions, André was able to move up to P10.
Around lap 60 during a safety car period the track experienced a shower. With the circuit extremely slippery on a slick tyre, the team brought both co-drivers in for wets however the remainder of the field retained the slick tyre which ultimately meant both cars took two additional pit stops over the rest of the field.
In the final stint André was able to put in a fantastic effort and with the help of several safety cars close the gap to the top-ten. In the final two laps André put the NED Whisky Mustang in P11 and brought the car home after a wild finish to this year's Bathurst 1000.
After resolving the clutch issue from early in the race, Dale Wood and Rick Kelly were able to push on to finish the race. The team never gave up and got the Castrol Mustang to the end in P17 despite finishing several laps down, after eight other cars didn't complete the race.
The team now looks forward to returning home to Melbourne in the coming days. It has been an extremely challenging 100-plus days for the entire travelling crew, but they have dug deep and shown extreme commitment to the sport for which they should be commended.
André Heimgartner, #7 NED Racing
"It was an interesting race, for us it was going pretty good and then unfortunately we made a mistake with choosing to go on the wet tyre during the shower. That was a bit disappointing but we had a good comeback, the team performed really well which is positive."
"The car was quite good during the race, Dylan did everything we asked of him in the race and kept out of trouble which was good to see and that really put me in a position where I was able to push and move up through the grid in my stints. There was obviously a lot of carnage out there from some young drivers so really pleased with Dylan's driving."
"It's good to put a close on this year, the guys have obviously been away a long time and it's great that they can now all go home and see their families after almost four months away. We'll come back stronger next year, we learnt a lot in this season about what we need to go faster so hopefully we can do that and move forward."
Dylan O'Keeffe, #7 NED Racing
"It was really exciting for me obviously to complete my first Bathurst 1000, I actually got to start the race which was a great opportunity and I thought my start was quite good but I got held out wide at Turn One and lost a few more spots than what I'd hope but ended up going with the pack."
"We had good pace but got caught out by putting on wet tyres when in hindsight we shouldn't have but that's what happens when you're racing. I felt like I did a good enough job supporting André and hopefully I can come back for more."
"Obviously when Andre was in he was obviously on fire and I've loved learning from these guys, and it's been a really good weekend."
Rick Kelly, #15 Castrol Racing
"It was a bit of a bummer after we did a really good job of preparing the car for this one, we didn't make the shootout which meant we had the whole day yesterday to prepare. I came here today ready to go and wasn't really nervous at all which is a big thing at this race usually."
"But unfortunately as I took off to start the warm up lap we had an issue with the clutch and our race was done from that point. So I rolled around, started the race, I don't actually know how we got it off the line to start with because the clutch was fried at that point. I stayed out way longer than we had planned for the first stint while the guys figured out how we could rectify the problem."
"We pitted and couldn't fix it in the stop so we had to bring the car into the garage and replace everything. We re-joined seventeen laps down but I'm just proud of the guys, no one gave up, we still finished the race in seventeenth."
"It hurts a little bit more because we had a really good car here, I think if we didn't have the problem we would have had a shot at a really good result but we certainly leave with a positive of being able to finish the race despite that issue."
Dale Wood, #15 Castrol Racing
"There's lots of good things to take away from the weekend, I was gutted when we started and the clutch went so early in the race. It made me sad for the amount of work that has gone in, especially this year, a lot of sacrifice, and for it to be turned on its head so quickly was pretty upsetting."
"But we still got the car fixed, got the car back on track and finished the race, it just wasn't the result we were hoping for. Overall, just proud of the team to not give up and get us back out there to complete the race."