Kelly: Engine misfire cost Bathurst victory
Amid a sea of hard luck stories following a chaotic Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Rick Kelly says that his Nissan Altima was good enough to win the race, if not for a persistent engine misfire.
Kelly finished eighth alongside co-driver David Russell, equalling his best finish in the Great Race across the past eight years.
The former two-time winner was left frustrated, however, by an engine problem that plagued the #15 Jack Daniel’s entry throughout the day.
The Kelly/Russell entry was one of just seven cars to lap in the 2:07s bracket during the race, with Kelly’s best lap, set in the early stages, quicker than that managed by three of the top four finishers.
The lead Nissan of James Moffat/Taz Douglas survived two crashes to finish second, while Todd Kelly/Alex Buncombe escaped a mid-race tangle with Jamie Whincup to make it three Altimas in the top 10 with seventh.
Kelly had taken the final restart ahead of Moffat but proved unable to find the podium as he dealt with the misfire and a tight fuel strategy.
“It was the first time I’d been comfortable all weekend,” said Kelly post-race, having on Friday qualified as the slowest of the Nissan’s in 16th.
“In the first stint we developed a miss, but still lapped (quickly).
“I think we were the second fastest car at that point and it felt fantastic.
“Unfortunately it just got worse… (it) got that bad that it was costing us a second a lap, and then probably two or three at the end there.
“It’s really upsetting because the car we had was a winning car, there’s no doubt.
“I couldn’t believe the pace it had and we finished nowhere because of the miss unfortunately.
“For us, it’s disappointing because you don’t want to throw away a result at Bathurst, that’s for sure.”
The result marked Russell’s first top 10 finish in five career Bathurst starts but also left him wondering what might have been.
“In the 1000s I’ve done I’ve never seen so much carnage, but fierce pace as well,” he reflected.
“I’m really proud because we matched the pace of the leaders.
“We were hampered early in the race before the red flag situation with the electrical problem (that caused he misfire)
“Obviously the engine was still running but it cost us a lot of time and a lot of power on the straights.
“The fact that we pushed through that and kept the pace up all day and came through to finish in the top 10 is something, but I can’t help but wonder where we would have been if we hadn’t had those dramas.”
Russell also starred in the Carrera Cup support class, contending for victory in all three heats while substituting for regular driver Roger Lago.
Kelly and Russell now sit 10th in the Pirtek Enduro Cup points standings heading to the Castrol Edge Gold Coast 600 later this month.