Todd Kelly says that he fully expects to remain on the V8 Supercars grid in 2015 as his Nissan Motorsport squad continues its hunt for sponsors into the off-season
The 35-year-old’s place in the four-driver line-up has been in doubt due to the team’s commercial position.
The squad has lost Norton, the former primary sponsor of its Michael Caruso and James Moffat driven entires, while Jack Daniel’s is expected to continue in a reduced capacity.
The team made the decision in September to re-sign Caruso regardless, locking him in alongside the already contracted James Moffat and former champion Rick Kelly.
While the possibility of taking a funded driver for the fourth seat has been floated, Kelly has now all but dismissed the chances that such a deal will be struck.
“We’re still pressing on business as usual,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com of his position following the 2014 season finale in Sydney.
“There would have to be something pretty big happen for it to be worth me stepping out and there’s not many miracles (drivers with considerable funding) kicking around.”
Kelly is optimistic that key sponsorship deals can be locked away before Christmas.
“We’re looking pretty good,” he said of progress.
“There have been a lot of solid discussions and there is a lot of good stuff happening between now and Christmas that we’re trying to lock away.”
Kelly is confident that his team, which ran Holdens under the Kelly Racing banner from 2009 to 2012, is set for its most competitive season yet in 2015.
The squad is preparing to introduce a major cylinder head upgrade, which has been in the planning for over 12 months, in the first quarter of next season.
Work is also continuing on an upgrade that will see more drag removed from its aerodynamic package.
The former Bathurst winner insists that the commercial squeeze has not had a negative affect on the team’s research and development push.
“You really need to try and keep the cars developing and going as fast as they can and then work your bum off to sort the financial side,” he said.
“Unless the cars are up the front, you won’t have any decent partners anyway, so we’re still putting everything we possibly can into the development.”
Caruso was the best placed Nissan driver in this year’s championship with 10th, leading Rick Kelly (13th), Moffat (16th) and Todd Kelly (22nd).
Season highlights included a pole at Queensland Raceway (Moffat) and podiums at Bathurst (Moffat/Taz Douglas) and the Gold Coast (Caruso/Dean Fiore).
A general late-season up-swing in form for the team also included Kelly’s personal best result of the season, a fifth place at Phillip Island’s penultimate round.
“With the runs that they’ve had this year with a few podiums and some pace at a lot of places, there’s still a fairly reasonable chunk (of straightline speed) missing that we’re hoping to get,” said Kelly when asked of the squad’s 2015 prospects.
“We’re not going to say anything silly like we’re going to win the championship, but we certainly need to be top five runners a lot more often and aim for a lot more podiums through the year.”