Q:
Tony, you must be ecstatic to have a full-time seat in the V8 Supercar Championship Series for the first time?

Tony Ricciardello:
You could probably say that it's been 10 or 11 years of progress that I've had behind me, trying to break in to get that full-time drive. It hasn't even really sunk in. Kelly Racing has been great to me over the last year and hopefully this year is going to be another great one and we can all look back at the end of the year and say that we've had a great season.

Q:
Does it help that you have had a bit to do with the team already, testing for the team and having raced at Phillip Island and Bathurst with Kelly Racing last year?

TR:
Working with the team last year and getting to know the guys and working closely with them is a big help. It's hard enough going to a new track, so it's good that we can get stuck in at the first race and it does make it a little bit easier.

Q:
You have done a lot of racing in the past with a lot of success, but racing 15 events in V8 Supercars is surely a step up in a lot of ways?

TR:
It's a big call and yes, I will not be used to racing so many races and doing longer races. I might have been racing for 12 years or so but in this series I'm a rookie. I've got to prove myself to everyone else, that I belong and that I should stay here. I've just got to take it each step at a time. I've got great team-mates at Kelly Racing in Todd, Rick (Kelly) and Jason (Bargwanna), who can give me a lot of knowledge and help me with all the issues as they arise during the year. I'm sure we can get on top of it and just enjoy the racing.

Q:
You will be a V8 Supercar rookie but you come in with a lot of experience and maturity and also some V8 Supercar experience. Does that give you an edge over some of the younger guys in the category?

TR:
It is a mental game as much as it is a physical one and it's really mentally tough. I've had the lowest of lows and experienced a lot of different emotions and things over the years and I think having all that experience will hopefully give me an edge. Fitness is not an issue. I've been training six days a week and really I've been training and working towards getting this opportunity. Now it's a matter of getting in the car and doing what I'm supposed to do.

Q:
The first race of the year is a massive one over in Abu Dhabi. You have raced at Sepang but Abu Dhabi will be something else.

TR:
It's going to be a new experience. I've raced at Sepang before and it's that sort of track with so many turns and it's very wide. Going to Abu Dhabi, no one has raced there before so I'm not actually behind the other drivers on that front, so I think it could be a little bit more of a level playing field. It's going to be a great event and it could be a little overwhelming to be there at that massive circuit realising that I'm part of this great series, so I'll need to keep on top of that.

Q:
Did you think that the opportunity of a full-time V8 Supercar drive would come? Or had you almost resigned yourself to the fact that you would be an endurance driver and race in other categories?

TR:
I was trying for quite a lot of years to even just get endurance drives and this year again that's what I was concentrating on. Maybe that's the reason it all fell together easily? I didn't expect it to come together like it has so I am so grateful for the opportunity and the faith that Todd and Rick and all the guys at Kelly Racing have put in me. The team is giving me a great car and it's awesome to have a new sponsor in Super-Max onboard for the events in the Middle East as well. I'm really excited. It's going to be a big weekend and I can't wait to hop into the Super-Max Commodore for first practice. New sponsor, new driver and a relatively new team attacking the newest circuit in the series at Yas Marina; It's going to be a great weekend and I can't wait.

 

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