Home' V8X Supercar Magazine : Aug Sep 2018 Issue 106 Contents 70 SUPERCARXTRA
One thing Todd guarantees is there will be no let-up on
development spending in anticipation of a tighter finan-
cial year in 2019.
“That would almost guarantee a slow death,” he says
“As soon as you turn the tap off on everything the com-
mercial team has a hell of a job getting deals across the
line. The best thing to do is push on as we are.”
The next step beyond that is the selection of a car for
2020. Clearly, the Kellys are on the hunt for a new brand
to introduce to the category, but that’s a hard road to go
down. The back-up plan will be Holden ZB Commodore or
Ford Mustang... or maybe Chevrolet Camaro if it comes
“We haven’t really rushed in and had any meaningful
discussions yet,” Todd reveals.
“Whatever choice we make that will be us for at least
“To convert to another brand; the expense of that is
not a one or two-year program, that’s a five-year program
at least. We want to make sure that’s the right decision.”
The obvious assumption might be that the Kellys will
opt to return to Holden, the brand they raced as part of
the factory-backed Walkinshaw organisation. Also with
Larry Perkins when their own organisation was first
established as Perkins Engineering.
The centralised panel purchasing arrangements for ZB
are of no interest to Todd, so that points the team toward
the Mustang or Camaro, the latter raising the intriguing
proposition of re-establishing a relationship with the
“If it’s a fair and reasonable deal I don’t have a problem
working with anybody,” smiles Todd.
Now we’re crossing a courtyard past two giant pantechs
to the machine shop, where a bank of CNC machines are
busy milling parts. Across into another building and we’re
in the engine and drivetrain area.
Ah, those bloody engines and their cylinder heads, the
source of so much angst for so long. Todd says substantial
work programs that kicked off in 2017 are now paying
Beyond the engine bay, the continued detailed clean-up
of the body’s aero neatness – an Ollila area of particular
expertise – is also aiding performance.
The shift back to the 2016 tyre is another factor, as is
the adoption of more composite body panels in the wake
of the ZB Commodore fracas, allowing a lower centre of
gravity through ballasting.
“There’s still work to do but they are little things now,”
“There are no chunks left in anything, there are no
chunks left in the car, there are no chunks left in the
“We are splitting hairs now. But that’s where the cat-
egory is at now, so we are flat-out developing things to
split hairs basically.”
Clearly, in 2018, it’s been paying off. Just days after
Nissan announced its pull-out, Rick won an emotional
victory for the team at the Winton SuperSprint in May
– his first win in an Altima.
He’s sustained that form too, claiming a pole positon in
Darwin and consistently running in the top 10 into the
second half of the season.
“It was pretty emotional to get up in the briefing room
and tell our 60-odd staff that Nissan had pulled out,”
“There had been a lot of rumours about the future and
the natural thing for people to do without communica-
tion is they start worrying about their drive or their job.
So it doesn’t create a good environment for any business.
“To get up and tell them ‘that all we can do is operate
the best we can at the track and show them what we are
made of’ is one thing, but to then have that many people
who can influence a race weekend and result go to Winton
and perform at their absolute peak and not let that affect
them just blew me away.
“It really hit me right then what an amazing bunch of
people we have right here.
“To not make a mistake on a pitstop, to not make a
mistake on a strategy and then for Rick to put his head
down and drive the way he did, that was mega.
“In the circumstances we had it would have been easy
for the wheels to fall off every aspect of the race team but
it was quite the opposite.”
The tour is complete. We finish up in the merchandise
area, full of Nissan Motorsport gear that will soon be
This could be a moment that triggers a bout of sad
reflection, but Todd’s having none of that.
“I think the last five years working with Nissan have
been worthwhile because of the work we have had to do
with the engine and the aerodynamics and the knowl-
edge we have gained and the staff we have gained
through that process,” he reflects.
“That has built us into one of the most capable teams
in the category – if not the most capable team.
“So to look at it like that it’s certainly been worth-
while. And to work with a brand like Nissan on and off
the track has been fantastic and I have enjoyed every
moment of it.
“Stay tuned for the next phase,” he adds, the anger
long gone and a smile now on his face. “I’m not sure
what it will be yet, but it will be good.”
ABOVE: Rick Kelly scored
his first win in the Nissan
Altima at Winton in May.
z_SX106 p66-70 Kelly Racing.indd 70
23/7/18 1:30 pm
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