12 August 2009
Jack Daniel's test for Bayliss, Collins.
Three-time World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss and British all-rounder Ben Collins have both spent time behind the wheel of one of Jack Daniel's Racing's Holden Commodore at Winton Motor Raceway in preparation for this season's endurance events.
Lapping under the watchful eye of former Bathurst winners Todd and Rick Kelly, who co-own the Jack Daniel's team, Collins began his recently-confirmed relationship with the squad, while Bayliss, who retired from full-time motorcycle racing at the end of last season, tested as part of the team's Driver Evaluation Day.
The Australian, who has already tested for two other V8 Supercar teams this season, adapted well to the #15 Commodore, which currently lies eighth in the standings - while endurance specialist Collins joined Bathurst and Phillip Island team-mate Nathan Pretty - and Kelly Racing endurance driver Tony Ricciardello - in getting acquainted with the black machine.
“It was a great experience,” Bayliss reported, “I came along yesterday and went and had a look at the Kelly Racing set-up and it's a great facility. It's on par with the best that I've seen, that's for sure. “They've done a great job. The guys asked me along to come and do a few laps and it's nice because it's been a long time since I've been at Winton."
Despite his previous outings in V8 machinery, the test provided Bayliss with a new experience.
"It's actually my first time with a lot of other cars out on the track," he revealed, "I haven't done much in the V8 at all, so it was a good experience today. I really enjoyed driving the Jack Daniel's Commodore today and, by the second stint out there, it wasn't looking so bad. I felt okay, 'not too bad' in the car.
“Everybody knows what I really want to do. I'm chasing that next step in my career. I'd loved to be involved in the V8s - whether it's in the main game or as a development driver. There are so many young guys who probably want to be world champions in their future, but I'm not thinking of being a world champion anymore. I'd love to be in the main game and I'd love to win some races.
"But also I'd love to do the enduros and, of course, Bathurst is a very big race. It's something that I've been watching for many years, so I'd love to take part in that race and do well in it.”
While Bayliss is still looking for a deal that will allow him to contest the biggest race of the year 'down under', Collins could get down to beginning his preparation for the two endurance events.
“I'm getting used to it all – the team, the drivers, everything," he admitted, "It's a very friendly team, so I've felt very welcome straight away, which is a good start to the whole process.
“I'm just getting used to a V8 Supercar again. In February, I had a few laps with HRT so I'm just remembering how these cars want to be driven. It's very different to how we race in Europe. These cars and events are very unique. There is a very disciplined way of driving them on the throttle. It takes a lot to get used to the braking points and that kind of thing but, primarily, it's the throttle. So it's just a matter of training my foot to weigh a little bit less and to be more progressive.
“Even in the first few laps, it's reasonably quick, but to get on the pace it's just a matter of fine tuning it all and making sure I'm in the right place mentally for the endurance races. It's all going well so far.”
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