Qualifying key for Kelly Racing to avoid first lap ‘grief’

Rick Kelly

Andre Heimgartner and Rick Kelly said if not for poor qualifying results they likely would have been able to avoid the opening lap melee in Townsville.

Neither Kelly Racing driver made it into the Top 10 Shootout with Kelly down in 18th and Heimgartner one place further back.

Lap 1 of Race 19 saw chaos unfold after a concertina into Turn 2 ultimately saw Anton De Pasquale in a spin.

Shane van Gisbergen was another victim, tipped sideways into the path of Todd Hazelwood and into the outside wall.

As Kelly baulked to avoid the cars in his path, Heimgartner had nowhere to go and hit his team-mate.

Both cars sustained front end damage and for a time were last and second to last on the opening lap.

Kelly continued on while Heimgartner came to the pits with damage. He returned to the race but eventually retired.

“It’s always a bit of a bottle neck here at Turn 2,” said Heimgartner.

“Unfortunately a few people were facing the wrong way and I was on the outside and couldn’t necessarily see what was happening on the inside which made it difficult to take evasive action and I just didn’t have enough warning to be able to react fast enough.

“Unfortunately we made contact and once that happens you tend to cop it from a few directions so fairly unfortunate.

“The car had a fair bit of damage. I was able to limp it to the pits, the guys had a look, and tried to massage some of the bodywork before I went back out around eight laps off the lead lap.

“We were struggling with the damage on the car and the guys were concerned we’d do more harm than good by continuing in the race so we decided to retire the car which also gives the guys a small head start on fixing it for tomorrow.

“Unfortunately we probably wouldn’t have been in this position if we qualified better, so tomorrow we need to try and improve on that and hopefully have a better day.”

While Heimgartner failed to finish, Kelly continued on to finish 17th in the Castrol Racing entry.

Kelly said his focus has shifted to Sunday’s two 10-minute qualifying sessions where he hopes he can position himself away from possible first lap dramas.

“We obviously didn’t qualify very well, we didn’t have what we needed there and got caught in some traffic on my last flying lap,” said Kelly.

“We started back and got involved in the drama at the start, there was a fair bit of grief at Turn 2, and from starting where we were we just didn’t have anywhere to go.”

“That was pretty much the story of the race for us, we just stayed out of trouble from there and came home in 17th which is better than where you normally end up when you’re a lap down but still not the best day for us.”

Back-to-back qualifying sessions for Race 20 and Race 21 get underway from 10:40 local time/AEST today.

Join the discussion below in the Speedcafe.com comments section

Please note: Speedcafe.com reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]