An emotional Todd Kelly has described a pressure-soaked drive by his little brother Rick to give Nissan a memorable victory, as “better than winning Bathurst” following an emotional week.
Kelly praised his brother’s almighty effort to withstand incredible pressure in the closing laps, just five days after announcing they were parting ways with the Japanese marque.
The veteran racer steered Nissan to a well-deserved victory and reward for the team which has found form and results this year after years turning the Altima into winning Supercar.
Kelly turned back time with an opportunistic pass from an uncharacteristic error by Scott McLaughlin, then held on for seven agonising laps for the victory.
“This is better than winning Bathurst what we have been through. What the boys have achieved today has been absolutely unbelievable, I will never forget it,” Todd Kelly said.
“It just shows the calibre of these guys here. You couldn’t have been faced with more diversity and distraction in the leadup to this and they have dug deep to get the job done. The crew, the drivers, everyone is just amazing.”
He said the pressure on his younger brother was enormous, given the last five days for the team.
“He 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 his head down and got the job done,” he said.
“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. To be able to show we can get the job done is a huge relief.”
The man behind the wheel was just as emotional on the podium.
“I am trying hold it all back,” he said. “It was pretty quiet on the radio, I think everyone is pretty overwhelmed as well. I am pretty proud of that today. The Castrol rig today is obviously incredible and the guys have put so much in to this point. We took advantage of the situation and got a win.”
With just seven laps to go McLaughlin forfeited a lead he had held all race when he let Kelly, who had sat in second the entire race, pounce at the first turn.
While McLaughlin dropped back to fifth, Kelly held off a flying Scott Pye in the Boost Mobile Holden and Shane Van Gisbergen in the Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore.
Fabian Coutlhard was consistent throughout to finish fourth while Kelly’s Nissan team-mate Michael Caruso ended up sixth behind McLaughlin, while Tim Slade, Garth Tander – who had started just 20th – James Courtney and Mark Winterbottom completed the top 10.
Earlier, McLaughlin claimed his sixth ARMOR ALL Pole Position of the 2018 Supercars season to earn first spot on the grid.
It gave McLaughlin took a 39th career Supercars pole position, and fourth in the last five races. It moves him into equal fifth on the all-time list of pole position winners, joining Ford great Allan Moffat on 39.
Today’s result ends McLaughlin’s four-race winning streak and also shakes up the Championship leaderboard. McLaughlin still leads but van Gisbergen’s podium means he is just 140 points behind his fellow Kiwi.
Craig Lowndes has now moved into third, leapfrogging David Reynolds who damaged a tyre and had to settle for 25th position today. Defending Champion, Jamie Whincup remains fifth in the standings, 325 points behind McLaughlin.
Drivers now turn their attention to qualifying tomorrow morning which will begin at 10:25am AEST. Tomorrow afternoon’s final race of the weekend, a 200km SuperSprint will begin at 1:45pm.
FOLLOWING TODAY’S RACE 13: WINTON SUPERSPRINT
| 1st – Rick Kelly (Nissan)
2nd – Scott Pye (Holden)
3rd – Shane van Gisbergen (Holden)
| 1st – Scott McLaughlin (1358 points)
2nd – Shane van Gisbergen (1218 points)
3rd – Craig Lowndes (1119 points)