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How Kelly Racing has evolved over the years

Connor O'Brien

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Thursday 14th January, 2021 - 12:15pm

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Andre Heimgartner and Rick Kelly go side-by-side at Townsville

This morning’s announcement the Grove Group has bought a majority share of Kelly Racing marks the latest big moment in the Braeside squad’s diverse history.

March 2009: Kelly Racing makes its Supercars Championship debut at Adelaide with a four-pronged fleet of VE Commodores driven by Rick and Todd Kelly, plus Jack Perkins and Dale Wood.

Both Kelly brothers record top 10 finishes in the team’s debut race.

Wood is replaced after six rounds by Mark McNally.

November 2009: Rick Kelly jags the team’s maiden podium with a third-place finish in the opening race of The Island 300 at Phillip Island. He backs that up with second place the following day.

Todd Kelly then makes it three KR podiums on the trot, finishing second in the Wanneroo opener.

May 2010: Rick Kelly takes pole position at Winton, marking KR’s first such achievement.

He converts that into fourth in the race and places eighth in the final standings in a year in which IndyCar superstar Scott Dixon partnered Todd Kelly at the Gold Coast round.

December 2010: Four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Greg Murphy signs, replacing Jason Bargwanna. Two of Murphy’s Mountain triumphs had come alongside Rick Kelly in 2003 and ’04.

April 2011: KR celebrates a landmark day as Rick Kelly scores a breakthrough victory at Hamilton, joined on the podium by his brother in third.

Two more wins follow, at Hidden Valley and Sandown, as Rick takes sixth in the championship.

Murphy meanwhile takes pole and third place at Bathurst with Allan Simonsen as co-driver.

February 2012: Nissan confirms it will join forces with KR for the following season as Car of the Future regulations come into play.

November 2012: KR shakes down its first Nissan Altima Supercar at Calder Park Raceway.

January 2013: Larry Perkins confirms the sale of his two Racing Entitlements Contracts to KR/Nissan Motorsport.

KR had operated with its two family-owned RECs that had previously been placed in the Walkinshaw organisation, with Perkins owning the other two KR RECs that had been used at his former Perkins Engineering outfit. As such, KR now owns RECs for all four of its entries.

August 2013: After a slow start on the track as the Nissan factory team, KR suddenly takes its first Altima victory as James Moffat leads Michael Caruso in a team one-two at Winton, albeit amid controversy surrounding the trial of a new E70 blend of race fuel.

Moffat and Caruso embrace post-race

Moffat and Caruso embrace post-race

August 2014: Moffat claims the team’s first pole in its Nissan era, at Queensland Raceway.

He later takes a shock second-place finish at Bathurst alongside Taz Douglas – a result that remains KR’s best Bathurst result.

2015: Rick Kelly leads the way with ninth in the standings, ahead of Caruso (12th), Todd Kelly (17th) and Moffat (18th).

March 2016: Caruso takes the championship lead after a wild and wet Adelaide season-opener. He ends up 10th at season’s end, headlined by a victory at Hidden Valley.

November 2016: A month after making a Bathurst wildcard appearance in an Altima, Swiss star Simona De Silvestro joins the team on a three-year deal beginning 2017. In doing so, she becomes the first full-time female driver in the Supercars era.

Results prove hard to come by on the whole in 2017, however, with all four entries going podium-less.

November 2017: Todd Kelly announces his retirement from racing.

May 2018: Nissan Motorsport announces its departure from Supercars at the end of the season, meaning the removal of KR’s factory backing. Just days later, KR takes victory at Winton via Rick Kelly – who goes on to finish eighth in the championship.

October 2019: KR announces a switch to Ford Mustangs beginning 2020 and confirms a downsizing to two cars, with one REC sold to each of Team 18 and Matt Stone Racing.

February 2020: Drivers Rick Kelly and Andre Heimgartner each clinch a top 10 result at the Adelaide season-opener following a frantic period of building and preparing their new Fords.

July 2020: Heimgartner records KR’s first pole and podium as a Ford squad, at Sydney Motorsport Park.

October 2020: Rick Kelly announces his retirement as a full-time Supercars driver.

January 2021: The Grove Group is announced as a major shareholder of the team now known as Kelly Grove Racing.

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