Rising Australian touring car racer Mark McNally will make his V8 Supercar Championship Series debut next month when he suits up for Hi-Tec Oils Racing at the Dunlop Townsville 400.
West Australian McNally will take over the #16 Holden Commodore for the rest of the 2009 campaign as part of Kelly Racing's commitment to developing new drivers, replacing Dale Wood, who completed driving duties in the entry for the first five events of the season, as well as the non-points event at Albert Park.
McNally will also be one of Kelly Racing's endurance drivers at the events at Phillip Island and Bathurst later this year, and the chance to compete in rounds prior to the long distance events will provide vital experience at the top level of V8 Supercar competition. The 27-year old has made 21 starts in the Fujitsu Series since debuting in the V8 development category at Queensland Raceway in 2006.
McNally will withdraw his #74 Holden Commodore VZ - coincidentally the same car used by Todd Kelly and Mark Skaife to win the 2005 Bathurst 1000 - from round three of the Fujitsu Series, also scheduled for the new Townsville circuit, to concentrate fully on his main series debut.
“Right from the start of my motorsport career, it has been my goal to get a seat in the main game,” he admitted, “Driving the Hi-Tec Oils Commodore from Townsville onwards is a realisation of that dream and, importantly, will mean that I am a lot better prepared for Phillip Island and Bathurst.
“The Townsville event is brand new and it promises to be a big weekend. It will be an incredibly tough event given how long the races are - and the demands of a street circuit are always huge. The step up from the Fujitsu Series to the main game is a massive one and I'm well aware of the challenge that lies ahead.”
Wood, meanwhile, remains in contention for one of Kelly Racing's two remaining endurance event seats. Brothers - and team co-owners - Todd and Rick Kelly, Jack Perkins, Nathan Pretty, Tony Ricciardello and McNally are the squad's six confirmed endurance drivers to date, with a complete line-up due to be confirmed at a later date.
“We thank Dale for his commitment and dedication to our team during our first five events," operations manager Patrick Ricci concluded, “He will remain an important part of the team for the remainder of the season.”