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Downtime gives Kelly Racing engine development opportunity

Simon Chapman

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Friday 20th March, 2020 - 6:00am

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Kelly Racing will look to lighten their engine package

Kelly Racing boss Todd Kelly says the team will adapt amid new coronavirus-related challenges to continue development of their Ford Mustang engine package.

Currently, the engine is estimated to be 15kg too heavy. The team hasn’t had time to take excess weight out given the short turnaround to get its cars built and on track for the pre-season SuperTest and Adelaide 500 earlier this year.

With confirmation from Supercars that events at Symmons Plains, Hampton Downs and Wanneroo have been postponed, the team has a large window to begin that work.

The downtime is a reprieve of sorts, which will allow the team to build a larger cache of spare parts and bring forward a process that has been planned for later in the year.

“It’s not a huge amount of development, we’re happy with how the engine performs, it’s just trying to get some weight out of it so we can be on minimum weight,” Kelly told Speecafe.com.

“The plan initially is to hook into preparing everything. We’ve literally got a couple of months worth of solid work to get to where we’d like to be.

“I’d like to get over that workload in time to give everybody a decent break before we kick off again because it’s going to be quite a hectic end to the year if it all goes to plan.

“We need to get our inventory up to scratch and make that as easy as possible on us when we potentially have back-to-back race weekends.

“Most importantly, people need to have spent time with their families before we hook into something of that intensity.”

Part of the engine development process involves not only taking weight out of the block but also reworking the cylinder heads and inlet manifolds.

Kelly said the postponement of three events has put a dampener on their season with the only silver lining being that they will have time to play catch-up.

“The only positive from all of this is it gives us more time to sort out what was quite a rush,” he said.

“The guys are still working on the engine lightening, they’ve done that based out of home this week. We’re probably another week away on the CAD (computer-aided design) side of things before we can start machining parts.

“We’ll use this time extremely wisely and make sure that we can keep everyone’s morale and safety where it needs to be through the next couple of months.

“Our plan will be to roll out with V2 of our Mustang by the next time we hit the track. We haven’t even begun to discuss test days or anything like that.

“The first thing is, before thinking about the cars, is making sure that we’re doing the right thing for our staff.”

The team shut its doors following the Melbourne 400 and has yet to unpack their cars as Kelly puts measures in place to reduce the chance his employees are impacted by the virus.

Part of that process for the team is fitting the workshop with appropriate hand sanitisers and limiting work on cars at any time to one person.

Kelly said his primary focus was to show his employees ‘compassion and care’ in a time of uncertainty.

“As of right now I’m setting up the business to deal with what’s going on in the real world,” said Kelly.

“I basically closed the door on Friday night of Albert Park, the cars all still sitting in the transporter out the back. No one has been in here other than me and one or two others at times.

“We really want the staff to be prepared for themselves and their families and make sure that I don’t get anyone back into the workplace without the correct information.

“That’s pretty clear now that we know what the championship is doing and what the government is doing.

“I’m preparing for everyone to come back with simple things like having all the sanitisers and rules and advertising around the workshop.”

The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is currently slated to return with the Truck Assist Winton Super400 on June 5-7.

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