Rick Kelly has broken a near-three-year winless streak in the V8 Supercars Championship with a very impressive drive in the first race of this weekend’s Hamilton ITM400 event, the third round of the 2011 season.
The Jack Daniel’s Racing driver managed to keep it together in slippery conditions, and held on in a close fight with Craig Lowndes to vault to fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
And it was a triple celebration for the 2006 V8 champion, who announced his engagement to his partner Elysia this weekend, and was joined on the podium by his older brother and team-mate Todd.
And while Kelly enjoyed his moment in the sun, the current championship leader Jamie Whincup had a torrid opening race. After a planned pit stop, he lost control of his car exiting the pits and slapped the wall, damaging a steering arm and losing three laps having it repaired in the pits.
A 23rd placed finish was scant reward, and it saw the Team Vodafone driver’s lead over FPR rival Mark Winterbottom (who finished fourth today) trimmed from 144 points to 60.
A particularly slippery pit lane caught out many drivers, and the race featured a few mishaps such as overshooting pit garages, running over pit crew members, and spins at pit entry for Shane van Gisbergen and Lee Holdsworth.
After a rubbish qualifying session, James Courtney finished a very smart fifth on the road, followed by Steven Johnson, Will Davison, Fabian Coulthard and Greg Murphy, while rookie driver James Moffat finished a career-best tenth.
However, Courtney was later issued with a post-race time penalty for starting from the wrong grid slot, which resulted in an additional ten seconds being added to his finishing time. This dropped him to eleventh place.
Tomorrow the V8 Supercars action will return, with another 20-minute qualifying session and a 200km race around the streets of Hamilton.
V8 Supercars ITM400 Final Classification (Race 1 – 59 laps):
|1.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing||1:38:27.0660|
|2.||Craig Lowndes||Team Vodafone||+ 1.3133|
|3.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing||+ 7.9251|
|4.||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel FPR||+ 8.4717|
|5.||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam Racing||+ 15.4377|
|6.||Will Davison||Trading Post FPR||+ 17.2287|
|7.||Fabian Coulthard||Bundaberg Racing||+ 18.4584|
|8.||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 19.2005|
|9.||James Moffat||Jim Beam Racing||+ 20.9368|
|10.||Alex Davison||Irwin Racing||+ 23.5680|
|11.||James Courtney*||TOLL Holden Racing Team||+ 24.0110|
|12.||Tony D’Alberto||Wilson Security Racing||+ 32.0370|
|13.||Jason Bargwanna||Jana Living Racing||+ 1:26.4769|
|14.||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto Racing||1 lap behind|
|15.||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing GRM||1 lap behind|
|16.||Shane van Gisbergen||SP Tool Racing FPR||1 lap behind|
|17.||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing||1 lap behind|
|18.||Garth Tander||TOLL Holden Racing Team||1 lap behind|
|19.||Jason Bright||Team BOC||1 lap behind|
|20.||Steve Owen||VIP Petfoods||1 lap behind|
|21.||Dean Fiore||Triple F Racing||2 laps behind|
|22.||Lee Holdsworth||Fujitsu Racing GRM||2 laps behind|
|23.||Jamie Whincup||Team Vodafone||3 laps behind|
|24.||David Reynolds||Stratco Racing||7 laps behind|
|DNF||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 Racing||26 laps|
|DNF||Jonathon Webb||Mother Energy Racing Team||22 laps|
|DNF||Warren Luff||Gulf Western Oil Racing||14 laps|
|DNS||Paul Dumbrell||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Withdrew|
* Stewards’ Decisions:
Lee Holdsworth claimed immunity from a detection of shortcutting at Turn 4. This was investigated post Race and was not substantiated. The Stewards deducted 25 Championship points from him as a penalty.
Following an investigation and an admission by Michael Caruso that he drove in a careless manner (contact on David Reynolds), the Stewards deducted 25 Championship Points from Michael Caruso.
Following an investigation and an admission by James Courtney that he did not start from his correct grid position, the Stewards added 10 seconds to the Race time for Courtney for a false start.
[Original image via Kelly Racing]