Kelly: ‘Lot to work through’ to secure 2019 line-up

Tom Howard

Wednesday 24th October, 2018 - 6:00am

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Drives belonging to Andre Heimgartner and Michael Caruso could be available for 2019 pic: AJP Photography

Todd Kelly says there is still a lot to work through before driver line-ups and commercial partners are secured for the rebranded Kelly Racing squad in 2019.

The Braeside operation plans to maintain its four car program next season despite losing its factory support from Nissan.

While the outfit intends to stick with four Altimas, it is yet to confirm its driver line-up.

It is expected that co-owner Rick Kelly will continue while Simona de Silvestro is contracted to the team for another year and reaffirmed her commitment to the sport and squad earlier this week. 

This leaves potentially two seats available with long serving driver Michael Caruso out of contract at the end of the year, while Andre Heimgartner, who joined this season, is understood to be on a one-year deal.

Speedcafe.com understands that two of the team’s Pirtek Enduro Cup co-drivers, namely Alex Rullo and Garry Jacobson are among those linked to full-time drives.

Kelly expects negotiations with drivers and sponsors will drag on for a least a month before the team’s 2019 set-up is secured.

“It’d be great to be (sorted for next year) right now, but I think unfortunately it’ll drag out for potentially quite a while to make sure we get everything in place, to make sure we get the right deals, the right drivers in the cars,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.

“We’re trying as hard as we can to try and re-sign drivers and put the commercial aspect around (them).

“We’re pretty close but nothing will be finalised to the point where we can have things signed announced within the next month or so.”

Securing the commercial side of the business is a key area in determining the driver-line up for next season now that Nissan has removed its backing at the end of the year.

However, Kelly maintains that it will endeavour to have the right mix of drivers and not focus on only those that bring significant budget.

“The whole thing really (relies on commercial aspects), but at the same time it’s a priority to have the fastest people and the right people in the cars,” he added.

“It’s always the challenge to get both lined up but we’re aware of that. That’s our priority.

“We’ll see (there is a) lot to work through yet.”

The team has enjoyed a successful final season as Nissan Motorsport having scored a race win alongside a further four podium finishes to date this year.

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