Crash.Net V8 News
Kelly Jr keeps Clipsal in the family
4 March 2007
Rick Kelly completed a clean sweep for the Kelly family by winning race two of the season-opening Clipsal 500 meeting in Adelaide, while brother Todd added second place to his win on Saturday to claim the round and head the early championship standings.
The podium was completed by leading Ford runner James Courtney, who occupies a similar position in the overall standings after a good day for the Stone Brothers Racing team, which also claimed fourth place courtesy of Russell Ingall. Team Vodafone's Jamie Whincup rounded out the top five, but there was more disappointing news for team-mate Craig Lowndes, whose eleventh place leaves him twelve positions and 51 points off the championship lead.
The race proved to be all about the Kelly boys as, once front row starter Courtney had made another poor start - not his fault this time as the SBR team later diagnosed a mapping problem - Rick was able to burst through from row two to take the fight to elder brother. The pair ran 1-2 through the opening corner and were never headed thereafter.
That's not to say there was no excitement up, for the brothers exchanged the lead several times during the 78 laps, just never gave up their ascendancy over the chasing pack. After Toll HSV pilot Rick had managed to slip through before mid-distance, HRT's Todd got back into the lead with a quicker second pit-stop for fuel, but Rick re-passed his brother when Todd had 'a moment' that saw him run wide with just eleven laps to go. From that point, Rick was never challenged as he opened up a lead over both Todd and the recovering Courtney.
Todd's second place, which was just 1.7secs shy of his brother at the flag, handed him the round victory, having won the season-opener on Saturday, and he carries an eight-point advantage over Rick into the second event, at Barbagallo, in three weeks' time.
Courtney's yellow-and-blue Jeld-Wen Falcon dropped as low as tenth by the first corner but, just as he had in race one, the SBR driver regained some of the lost ground, resetting his own lap record in the process, However, he continued to struggle to get away from standing starts, meaning that he lost time at each pit-stop and was unable to overhaul either Kelly brother in the final laps, even though a safety car period produced a final dash to the line. Instead, Courtney battled to keep Stone Brothers Racing team-mate Russell Ingall at bay over the final tours before taking the final step on the podium.
Having been handed the chance to close in on his young team-mate, Ingall made a move at the final hairpin, but decided that a decent haul of points for both Stone Brothers' cars was the best result he could achieve - a decision that sees SBR heading the teams' table after round one.
Defending Clipsal 500 champion Whincup also came on strong over the final stages, hauling in Dick Johnson Racing's Steven Johnson at the turn nine hairpin with eight laps to go to take his second top five finish of the weekend and grab fourth overall for the round.
Johnson held on through the remaining laps to give the new Jim Beam-liveried DJR car its best result of the short season so far, and was ably backed up by team-mate Will Davison, who overcame the handicap of starting towards the back to claim ninth place. The youngster, who is becoming known for his ill-fortune, also reported fewer symptoms of the back pain that forced him out of race one, following a seat position change.
The two Jim Beam cars sandwiched Mark Skaife and Steven Richards in seventh and eighth, both drivers, like Davison, enjoying better fortunes on day three of the meeting. For tenth-placed Garth Tander, however, the weekend ended in disappointing style as he had to settle for tenth place as a result of a drive-thru' penalty for impeding Todd Kelly during the second round of pit-stops. The punishment dropped the second Toll HSV car down to 13th place, having been third at one point, and it was all Tander could do to recover to tenth by the flag.
That was more than Lowndes could manage for, after starting 13th in race two, the 2006 series runner-up made a rare mistake and took to the escape road at turn four, dropping the #888 Vodafone Ford back to 23rd on the road. Eleventh was the best he could muster as his recovery drive was hampered by over-worked tyres.
Lee Holdsworth, Jason Richards, Jason Bright and Cameron McConville claimed the remaining points, the latter depriving Adam Macrow and Team Kiwi Racing of a score, while Team BOC and Sirromet Wines again failed to make a mark, despite better results second time around. Expected scorers Jason Bargwanna, Greg Murphy and Mark Winterbottom all left Adelaide empty-handed from race two after posting retirements in front of one of the biggest V8 crowds ever recorded.