Kelly concerned late Gen3 delivery will drive up costs

Todd Kelly

Kelly Grove Racing co-owner Todd Kelly fears costs associated with Gen3 will skyrocket the longer his team has to wait to start preparing for 2022.

Earlier this month Supercars released the first images of a Gen3-specification chassis built by Triple Eight Race Engineering (pictured below).

That marked the first physical item of the next generation Supercar to come to light publicly.

Shortly thereafter, Supercars began presenting category controlled steering wheel prototypes to drivers at the most recent round of the championship.

Amid a supposed lack of communication and slow rollout of Gen3-related items, there is mounting concern among some in pit lane that Supercars may not be able to deliver the new car in time for 2022 with less than a year until its scheduled racing debut.

While there has been no firm date on when the first Gen3-specification car will be completed, Supercars CEO Sean Seamer has targeted a mid-year debut of its prototype.

With every month that ticks by, Kelly’s concerns continue to grow with little information as to what his team will need in order to build cars in time for the 2022 season.

Even if Supercars is able to deliver a car, Kelly is worried that costs will soar as teams rush to make the changeover.

“That’s probably my biggest concern because we can’t prepare at all,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.

“There’s not a single thing we can manufacture or make. Nothing has been released. We can’t go and order all the connectors and make the wiring loom, as an example.

“There’ll be a massive flood of people trying to order parts and purchase parts when the spec gets released.

“Whether there’s enough time from whenever that point is until we need to go racing is yet to be seen. When it’s like that, it’s such a big job getting condensed into such a small time.

“You end up having to work the crew pretty hard to get it finished, which is not what we want. It’s not really ideal for anyone.”

The Triple Eight Race Engineering-built Gen3 specification chassis

Kelly said there are so many unknowns with the next-generation car, and while he is confident Supercars is “getting on with the job”, he believes there could be more communication.

Tidbits of information have slowly leaked out in the last year as to what the makeup of Gen3 will look like.

At last year’s Bathurst 1000 renders were released of the Ford Mustang and new Chevrolet Camaro.

Under the skin, only bits of information have been confirmed largely through the release of tender documents, and the final specification of the car is not yet known.

For Kelly, that’s a concern as he cannot prepare in advance.

“The tighter the timeframe is, once we know all of those things, the more expensive it becomes,” he said.

“It’s crazy. If we’re going to order material, billet bits of aluminium or wiring looms or connectors, if we know that now, we can order it, get it in the system, get things sea freighted over, and then put it in the car at your leisure and do it right.

“The further it gets delayed, you’ll end up having to air freight all of your gear over, you’ll have to put more and more labour into getting the thing done in time. The cost just skyrockets trying to condense it in such a short timeframe.

“The big one is getting these cars finished and actually getting enough mileage on-track before official sign off.

“When we got these [Car of the Future] cars, they were plugging around with the prototype for ages. A year and a half. We don’t have a year and a half.

“In general, the theory behind the engines and the aero and the chassis, it’s all spot on. It’s just a matter of if we execute the detail properly.”

An artist’s impression of a Gen3 specification Ford Mustang

Kelly said he’s not just concerned about the cost involved with a possible rush to build cars, but the pressure that will pile onto his staff.

It would mark the second major upheaval in a short period of time for the team, who at the end of 2019 downscaled from a four-car Nissan Altima operation to a two-car Ford Mustang set-up.

That saw the team develop new engines, build a new chassis, and convert another in time for the 2020 season.

Last year the team also had the unenviable challenge of being on the road for more than 100 days due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with every other Melbourne-based team.

Nevertheless, Kelly said he would be confident in his team’s ability to turn around two new specification cars for 2022 based on their recent trials and tribulations.

“After what they all went through last year, you need a quality of life as well to sustain being in motorsport,” Kelly explained.

“If we pushed hard and said we’re going to be working right through Christmas, take all your holidays now, it’d wreck most of the teams in pit lane. You just can’t do that to morale.

“We need to manage it as best we can and resource up and get extra labour in to make it happen. We can’t go and ask another miracle out of the staff to pull this one together if it comes to that.”

Kelly said he will reserve judgement in the meantime.

“It’s better to put your pride aside and concede defeat and get it right,” he said.

“There’s too much money at stake here and too big a reputation to not get this right.

“But they may well have done enough work to ensure that it’ll be a success from the start. We shall find out.”

KGR’s pair of current Mustangs have been relatively competitive during the first three rounds of 2021, with David Reynolds seventh in the standings and Andre Heimgartner 11th.

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