27 SEP 2020
Changes yield stronger balance for Kelly Mustang
The OTR The Bend Super Sprint continued today at South Australia's The Bend Motorsport Park. After a challenging start to the second leg of the Adelaide double-header, the team reset overnight and retuned the cars for more race pace.
While the cars performed reasonably well in qualifying yesterday, during the race the drivers struggled to push forward so the team worked on improving the race package from its Ford Mustangs. The turn six hairpin has proved to be an area where the drivers have struggled, so the engineering team also focused on improving the low-speed traction in that area.
The lack of practice running this year has been a big challenge, particularly on Sundays where the team is straight into two back-to-back qualifying sessions which makes it risky to make big changes to the cars. Today was no different and the morning kicked off with two ten-minute qualifying runs.
Rick Kelly started off the day strong in the Castrol Racing Mustang and was quick enough for P9 on the grid for the first race of the day – a solid improvement on his qualifying performance yesterday. André Heimgartner did a similar lap time to his qualifying yesterday which was quick enough to put the NED Whisky Mustang in P13 for the race.
In the second qualifying session the drivers only had one remaining set of green tyres each to complete their lap with. Both drivers did one flying lap at the beginning of the session before returning to the pits. Unfortunately the track evolved and became quicker towards the end of the session and André was only quick enough for P15 and Rick finished P18.
In the first race of the day Rick was able to get a solid start and settle into P9, while André struggled in the opening laps and dropped down to P17. Once the tyres on the NED Mustang came up to temperature André was able to push forward and move through the field. The race ended with both cars in the top-ten – André P10 and Rick P9.
In the final race of the weekend the guys started further back after struggling in qualifying but both drivers were able to get a great start. Rick moved up five places in the opening laps, while Andre picked up two positions. Unfortunately with the pit stops complete, Rick and Andre got caught in traffic which held them up and meant they lost track position once all other cars pitted. André finished in P14, while Rick was right behind him in the Castrol Mustang in P15, which was still a solid improvement on their starting positions.
The team now turns its focus to the final race of the 2020 season - the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. The team looks forward to meeting up with co-drivers Dale Wood and Dylan O'Keeffe in the coming weeks to begin preparations for the great race.
André Heimgartner, #7 NED Racing
"For us today wasn't too bad, I think we just missed the setup window a little bit but we're trying different things and found some things that worked and some that didn't. Overall, we've had worse weekends but a little bit lacklustre compared to last weekend and where we want to be as a team."
"Rick managed to unlock a bit of speed out of his car though which is exciting to see so we head into Bathurst positive, with a good plan and hopefully we'll be able to do well. I'm looking forward to getting there, getting Dylan in the car, doing driver change practice and all that unique stuff you do to prepare for Bathurst, it's definitely going to be a big few weeks."
Rick Kelly, #15 Castrol Racing
"The first race today wasn't too bad, we qualified ninth and finished ninth. There was an opportunity to probably be about two or three places further up but we had that tangle up with Winterbottom and Hazelwood which cost us and that was the in-lap for the pit stop so it's hard to recover from that these days, you come out of the pits behind a couple of cars and it's very hard to pass."
"In the last race we had a really good start from a poor qualifying position, and got up to 13th, we pitted a similar time but unfortunately when we came out there was a few laps where we were having a battle which slowed us down and the cars that hadn't pitted managed to jump us when they did pit."
"The positive for the weekend is that the balance in the car is stronger now with the changes we made for this weekend, and that'll be a really good thing for us at Bathurst."