Rick Kelly says he’s impressed by V8 Supercars’ Car of the Future following his first drive of the Holden Commodore VE at Phillip Island this week.
The Jack Daniel’s Racing co-owner and driver joined Orrcon Steel Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom and V8 Supercars’ Mark Skaife in giving the two COTF prototypes their first laps on the new 18-inch wheel and tyre package.
Running initially in damp conditions, Kelly completed both short and long runs throughout the day, giving feedback on the tyre and chassis package to the COTF test team.
Mark Winterbottom completed a similar program in the Falcon, while Skaife enjoyed stints in both cars.
According to Kelly, the new technical package, which includes an independent rear suspension, transaxle gearbox and mid-mounted fuel system, is an improvement on the current cars.
“My initial impression of the car was that it felt really well built,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.
“It looks very clean – you sit in the car and all the electronics and everything are really put away nicely.
“On the track it felt like they’ve put a lot of research and development into making it feel nicer than the current cars.
“It’s certainly more nimble and ‘Porsche-like’ than the current cars, but it didn’t feel night-and-day different, even though the whole rear-end has been redesigned and the gearbox is in the back.
“The gearbox was one of the real highlights to be honest, it was really nice and crisp. It didn’t take long at all to feel at one with the car and it certainly feels like a good platform to start tuning for the track and for the day that you go to.”
The COTF test team is a joint effort between V8 Supercars’ own technical operations and Fujitsu Series outfit Matt Stone Racing.
The Phillip Island test saw Kelly reunited with his former race engineer Dave Swenson, who started working on the COTF program after being dismissed from Jack Daniel’s Racing following this year’s Clipsal 500.
“I had a couple of great years working with Sweno so I was quite excited to catch up with him again,” said Kelly.
“Since we last worked together in Adelaide we’ve both been too busy to catch up, so I really enjoyed working with him throughout the day
“The whole crew that ran the car were great to be honest. I’ve only driven for Walkinshaws and Jack Daniel’s Racing during my career, so it was good to get in and experience a car that another team was running.
“Overall I was just excited to be asked to be a part of something that’ll take our category into the future.”
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