Upgraded engine for Rick Kelly in Townsville

The Nissan team installing Kelly's upgraded engine on Thursday

The Nissan team installing Kelly’s upgraded engine on Thursday

Rick Kelly has an upgraded Nissan engine at his disposal this weekend as the former champion aims to build on recent podium finishes.

The team was busily installing the upgraded unit in the #15 Altima at the Townsville circuit on Thursday after new parts were signed off with V8 Supercars.

The category’s rules require any new engine parts to be bench tested in Craig Hasted’s Brisbane workshop and logged before being used on a race weekend.

Although tight-lipped on the nature of the new components, Kelly downplayed their importance ahead of opening practice this morning.

The squad continues to work on its long-awaited major cylinder head upgrade that will be rolled out later in the season.

“There’s a few development bits and pieces this weekend, but it’s nothing that we’re expecting to be a game changer,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.

“There’s still a wait on the big upgrades to the cylinder head, so for us in the near future there’s going to be many trips to Brisbane to work on stuff.”

Nissan has enjoyed a surge of form over the last two events, with Kelly taking podium finishes at Winton and Hidden Valley.

Last month’s Hidden Valley meeting also saw the end of a near four-year pole drought for the two-time Bathurst winner.

Although encouraged by a strong bond with new-for-2015 race engineer George Commins, Kelly says the duo must keep expectations in check ahead of the weekend.

“We’re really excited about the momentum,” said Kelly.

“If we could get a podium this weekend, it’s a tough thing to do, but I would really love that.

“But for me it’s important to focus on the process and not the outcome, which means knowing what I want out of the car and working with George to achieve that.

“The format allows a fair bit to happen in the races with pitstops and everything, so for us that creates opportunity.

“If we do a good job then we’ve proven that the result will be there.”

This weekend also sees Kelly return to the role of analyst between sessions for Network Ten, with Townsville marking the free-to-air station’s second live event of the year.

The V8 Supercars will take to the Reid Park circuit for three 30 minute practice sessions today.

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