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Double-headers help Kelly Racing develop Mustang

Simon Chapman

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Wednesday 12th August, 2020 - 6:00am

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Andre Heimgartner claimed his first pole position with Kelly Racing at Sydney Motorsport Park

Todd Kelly says back-to-back rounds at the same circuit will continue to help the Kelly Racing team develop it’s budding new-for-2020 Ford Mustang.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the team has only completed three full Supercars rounds in 2020 with its new package.

The season-opening Adelaide 500 saw Rick Kelly and Andre Heimgartner both claim top 10 finishes.

Across three races at the first Sydney SuperSprint that followed, Heimgartner scored the sole top 10 finish for the team in what was a tough weekend for the pair.

However, learnings taken from the first event at Sydney Motorsport Park saw the team come back stronger at the second Sydney SuperSprint.

The standout performance was a maiden Supercars pole position and second place finish for Heimgartner while Kelly claimed a season-best sixth place.

Team co-owner Todd Kelly said the opportunity to return to Sydney Motorsport Park for a second run was greatly beneficial for the team.

With double-headers scheduled for Hidden Valley Raceway and the Reid Park Street Circuit, Kelly said the team will continue to wrap their head around the package.

“Certainly for us, we don’t have the knowledge of this car like other teams do,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.

“It’s quite helpful for us to have that situation for sure,” he said of the circuit repetition.

“I think we’re a little bit closer to where we need to be now to lift our expectations more for the first of the two rounds.

“It’s good that we get a couple of cracks at it if we do two rounds here at least to try and improve on it.”

Kelly said the team heads into the Darwin double-header riding a wave of confidence. It’s a circuit that has seen the Kelly Racing squad perform well at in the past with its Nissan Altima package.

Rick Kelly claimed pole position at the circuit in 2017 and ‘18. Prior to that, Michael Caruso scored his second Supercars career win in 2016.

Todd Kelly said he hopes the tem can continue its form, but is conscious that any previous set-up knowledge of the Nissan from Hidden Valley Raceway is largely null and void.

“Based off of how they ran at Eastern Creek and the fact that we normally don’t go too bad (in Darwin), hopefully we’re in for a good weekend,” said Kelly.

“In saying that, we’ve never had a Mustang on this track before to be too confident as normal.

“We know that there’s a little bit more learning for us to do on the first few outings just as we’ve found out at every track we’ve been too.

“All of our knowledge and prior learnings from the Nissan don’t translate at all to a Mustang.

“It’ll take us a little but to get our head around it like we saw at Eastern Creek and then hopefully we’ll be in for a good show.

“All of the set-up stuff, how the aero works on the cars requires a different set-up philosophy to maximise each style of circuit we go to.

“All those things now, set-up vocabulary, don’t just work on this car. It’s quite a bit different. We’re starting to understand it more and more and get closer as we roll it out each time.”

Kelly said Heimgartner’s maiden podium under the Kelly Racing banner wasn’t a surprise and was exactly what he had hoped for.

With proof that they can be competitive and a successful history at the Darwin track, Kelly has high hopes moving into the remainder of 2020.

“It would be fantastic to try and snag a few more podiums,” he said.

“Both cars were really in with a shot at the last round, so everyone wants to do the same thing but we can’t all fit on the podium obviously,

“That’s what the goal needs to be. We’ve done a lot of work on what we could do work on whilst we’ve been away since Eastern Creek.

“The pit stops and our preparation in general. Each time we roll out we’re in a better position to have a successful weekend.

Kelly reaffirmed plans to start the engine lightening program; however, that’s been stymied by the period away from their Melbourne base.

The Kelly Racing crew will be on track in the first of four consecutive events starting this weekend with the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown on August 22-23.

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