Kelly Racing will have to complete a double engine assembly in Darwin after the team discovered a potentially catastrophic engine issue this week.
On Tuesday the team put one of its engines on a dynamometer and suffered a valve pick-up issue after 20 minutes of running.
It was found the engine exhaust valve guides were too hard and not made of the correct material, putting all four engines at risk of failure.
Under the supervision of Supercars officials, the team stripped all four of its engines back to diagnose the problem and subsequently sought to fix it.
The team has been forced to depart Queensland with neither car #7 nor car #15 fitted with a functioning engine. The team also has two spare engines needing to be remedied.
Having been based out of 222 Offshore in Ormeau near the Gold Coast, the team is hoping to have the reworked headers and cylinder heads taken up to Darwin for them by another team.
However, the team won’t be able to reassemble engines for either of its Ford Mustangs until Thursday morning prior to the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown.
Kelly Racing had been scheduled to have its transporters and crew leave Queensland on Monday this week, but that was delayed until Friday after the issue was discovered.
“We had both engines in front of the cars ready to go in on our second-to-last day (before departing), which would’ve made the last day quite easy – a straightforward engine installation and a pack up,” said Todd Kelly.
“But as we were just checking over the engines and doing the final service, we actually picked up a bit of a problem with an exhaust valve picking up in the guide.
“We had no choice, given that we’re stuck on the road away from home for so long, but to get permission from Supercars to remove the seals on the engine under their supervision, pull the head off, and pull the valve out, and have a good inspection of it.
“It turned out it wasn’t far off becoming quite a big problem and even potentially having a blow-up. Given that all these four engines – we only have four engines at the moment – given the conversion was pretty last-minute over to Ford, we had to strip all four engines.
“As we should’ve been driving out the driveway, we’ve torn all four engines down again with Supercars permission to get on top of this issue. We’ve had a few pretty big days.
“It’s going to be pretty nerve-wracking though. There’ll probably be a few engines out over the weekend and header pipes off just to have a good look and assess it as we can without putting the engine apart again. Hopefully, we’ve sorted the issue out.”
The team is hoping it can get permission to set-up in a pit garage at Hidden Valley Raceway early to build the engines.
The team will then assemble the engines with the newly machined headers and exhaust valve guides.
Kelly Racing drivers Rick Kelly and Andre Heimgartner will be on track for the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown on August 8-9 followed by the CoreStaff Darwin SuperSprint on August 15-16.