Kelly shows Nis­san what it’ll be missin’

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - MOTORSPORT - JAMES PHELPS WIN­TON

RICK Kelly re­sponded to news that his team would be dumped by Nis­san at the end of the year by storm­ing home to claim a vic­tory his brother Todd com­pared to win­ning a Bathurst 1000.

In a gi­ant-killing drive just four days af­ter Kelly Rac­ing was of­fi­cially sacked by Nis­san af­ter six years, Kelly held on to beat Scott Pye and Shane van Gis­ber­gen at Win­ton with a performance that will give the Ja­panese gi­ant rea­son for re­gret.

Kelly Rac­ing co-owner Todd couldn’t con­trol his emo­tions af­ter his brother crossed the line days af­ter his team was stripped of a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar deal.

“This is bet­ter than win­ning Bathurst, what we have been through,’’ Todd said. “What the boys have achieved to­day has been ab­so­lutely un­be­liev­able. I will never for­get it.’’

The sport was rocked by the news that Su­per­cars would be­come a bat­tle be­tween only Holden and Ford in the fu­ture when Nis­san re­vealed on Tues­day it was quit­ting the sport.

Kelly Rac­ing — also known as Nis­san Mo­tor­sport — de­clared it would fight on fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment.

And yes­ter­day it made good on the promise with Rick Kelly pounc­ing to steal the lead af­ter a 30-lap safety car and hold­ing on to record one of his best wins.

“I am try­ing to hold all the emo­tion back,’’ Rick said.

“It was all pretty quiet on the ra­dio to­ward the end of the race. I think every­one is all pretty over­whelmed with this.’’

DJR/Team Penske driver Scott McLaugh­lin looked likely to con­tinue his win­ning streak af­ter set­ting him­self up for an­other tri­umph by claim­ing his 39th ca­reer pole po­si­tion.

Beat­ing team­mate Fabian Coulthard by 0.1283 sec­onds, the one-lap won­der moved to equal fifth on the all-time list of pole po­si­tion win­ners, join­ing Ford le­gend Al­lan Mof­fat on 39.

And a fifth-straight win never looked in doubt for McLaugh­lin un­til he had a six-sec­ond lead wiped away when a safety car was called with 10 laps to go.

En­ter Rick Kelly. Look­ing wounded and strug­gling to hold on to sec­ond, Kelly pounced at

the restart to steal the lead as McLaugh­lin went back­wards. Kelly was then forced to hold off a fast-fin­ish­ing Pye for an edge-of-your-seat fin­ish.

“We knew we were in a lit­tle bit of trou­ble there at the safety car restart,’’ Kelly said.

“Scotty was pretty straight and we had a lot of build-up on the tyres. I was hop­ing it wasn’t just us and he had a big wob­ble through one and two and I got enough of my tyres to sneak up the in­side. I am pretty proud of that and the Cas­trol rig to­day was pretty in­cred­i­ble.

“The boys put so much into this. It was a great win.’’

Kelly could not hide the pride in his first win since 2011.

“It means ev­ery­thing,’’ he said. “You come here to win races and it is just a credit to the guys that have done so much work over the years to put us in this po­si­tion.’’

Todd paid credit to both his team and his brother.

“It just shows the cal­i­bre of these guys here,’’ he said.

“You couldn’t have been faced with more di­ver­sity and dis­trac­tion in the lead-up to this and they have dug deep to get the job done. The crew, the driv­ers, every­one is just amaz­ing.

“And Rick has been through a lot, too, to do that and keep his head screwed on. The pres­sure he was un­der that whole race was pretty crazy and he just put it down and got the job done.

“We have worked so hard for so long. There were times I didn’t think that work would pay off.

“I am so glad we have been able to do this.”

Rick Kelly and his Kelly Rac­ing Nis­san team cel­e­brate win­ning at Win­ton. Pic­ture: Getty

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