V8 Supercars – Kelly Racing Confirms 8-Man Driver Line Up For Enduros

April 4, 2011

V8 Supercars

Kelly Racing has confirmed its complete driver line-up for the two endurance events in the 2011 V8 Supercars Championship, the L&H 500 and the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

Four-time Bathurst winner Greg Murphy will be joined by international sportscar ace Allan Simonsen in the #11 Pepsi Max Holden Commodore. The 32-year-old Dane, now based in Monaco, will be making his eighth Bathurst 1000 start.

Simonsen also raced alongside Murphy at Bathurst last year aboard the #51 Castrol Commodore, scoring a strong sixth place finish. Simonsen has impressed in previous Bathurst starts for Triple Eight Race Engineering, Perkins Motorsport and Garry Rogers Motorsport.

Jack Daniel’s Racing will again have Owen Kelly teamed with Rick Kelly in the #15 Jack Daniel’s Commodore. Owen Kelly, no relation to Todd and Rick Kelly, was a strong performer alongside Rick Kelly in the V8 Supercars endurance events last season, with the duo scoring fourth place at the L&H 500 as well as sixth in the Armor All Gold Coast 600 at the Surfers Paradise street circuit.

Owen Kelly will make his 10th Bathurst 1000 start this October, making him one of the most experienced co-drivers in this year’s endurance field, forming a potent driver combination alongside two-time Bathurst 1000 winner Rick Kelly.

David Russell completes the Jack Daniel’s Racing endurance line-up, driving alongside 2005 Bathurst 1000 winner Todd Kelly in the #7 Jack Daniel’s Commodore.

Russell took out Class B honours in Bathurst 12 Hour sportscar race earlier this year. Last year he performed a clean sweep of the Fujitsu V8 Supercars Series round at Mount Panorama, qualifying on pole and winning both races. The 29-year-old partnered Jonathon Webb to sixth place in the L&H 500 last year. He made his Bathurst 1000 debut in 2003.

Making his Bathurst 1000 debut with Stratco Racing is Tim Blanchard, who will race alongside David Reynolds in the team’s #16 Stratco Commodore.

Blanchard is the 2007 Australian Formula Ford Champion and won last year’s prestigious Mike Kable V8 Supercars Young Gun Award for his efforts in his debut season in the Fujitsu V8 Supercars Series. He also acquitted himself well while partnering Greg Murphy at the L&H 500 at Phillip Island in September, his V8 Supercars Championship debut.

Russell and Blanchard race as team-mates for Team Jayco in the Fujtisu V8 Supercars Series, giving them vital V8 seat time leading into this year’s endurance events. Blanchard finished second overall in the opening round of the 2011 series at the Clipsal 500 last month.

The L&H 500 will be held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Victoria on September 16-18 and the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will be held at the classic Mount Panorama circuit in New South Wales on October 6-9.

Kelly Racing will confirm its international co-drivers for the Armor All Gold Coast 600, to be held at the Surfers Paradise street circuit on October 21-23, at a later date.

RICK KELLY – Kelly Racing Co-Owner

“It’s great to sign four high-calibre endurance drivers in the early part of the season,” said Rick Kelly.

“We’ve already made them a part of our training programs and engineering meetings as we plan for Phillip Island and Bathurst.

“It’s really good to be sorted so early in the year. When you are looking for four co-drivers it’s not easy, but we are really pleased to have four guys that can do the job and work well with our four full-time drivers, as well as our engineers.

“We have four cars that we need supported at the highest level and having all cars at such a high standard is really pushing me a lot more as a driver.

“It’s exciting for the team that we are all helping each other, but also looking at how we can push harder to beat each other, and that’s exactly what we need as a team.

“We also need co-drivers to support that level of main game driver and I think we’ve got that. It’s important that we have squared this away early so that when we get to the first enduro it feels like we have all been together forever.”

ALLAN SIMONSEN – #11 Pepsi Max Holden Commodore

“I’ve been following Kelly Racing for the past two and a half years and I have great respect for what they do,” said Allan Simonsen.

“To have the chance to join them is great. It’s something I really appreciate and I think it will lead to great success.

“I always love coming down to Australia to do the endurance races. I’ve had great success over the years at Bathurst and came very close to a podium there two times, with fifth and sixth, sixth coming last year with Murph in the Castrol car.

“So this year is going to be the year. I can come and do Phillip Island again, where as last year I was forced to sit that out because of European commitments.

“I think getting to Phillip Island will really help a lot. Come Bathurst, we will be ready.

“Murph and I had a really good relationship last year and I’m supporting him in any way I can with my job as the Pepsi Max Crew co-driver.

“I know the Bathurst track and these V8 cars quite well. We gelled well last year and it definitely helps to be returning with him this year.”

OWEN KELLY – #15 Jack Daniel’s Holden Commodore

“Rick and I can take off right from where we left off on Sunday on the Gold Coast last year, that’s the beauty of it,” said Owen Kelly.

“Rick and I were a good combination last year so there was no reason to change.

“We had a great couple of races at Phillip Island and the Gold Coast and the #15 Jack Daniel’s Commodore had great pace. We had a good time doing it as well.

“By the look of the pace of all four Kelly Racing cars so far this year we will be just as good, if not better, so by the time we get to the enduros the team should have made even more gains.

“The entire team is putting in a huge effort at present so I’m really excited about coming back.”

DAVID RUSSELL – #7 Jack Daniel’s Holden Commodore

“It’s fantastic to join Kelly Racing and I couldn’t be happier,” said David Russell.

“There are three Bathurst winners in this team with so much experience and they are a team that has got fast cars, so I can’t wait until Phillip Island and Bathurst.

“To get the miles in at different tracks during the year and to get comfortable with the speed and brakes of a V8 Supercar in my Jayco car in the Fujitsu Series means that come the enduros I’ll be ready to mix it with all the guys in the field.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to be paired up alongside Todd in the Jack Daniel’s Commodore and we aim to be right up the front come Phillip Island and Bathurst.”

TIM BLANCHARD – #16 Stratco Holden Commodore

“Once we sorted our Fujitsu Series deal for this season it was a major goal to put something together for both endurance races,” said Tim Blanchard.

“So to be in a competitive car with Kelly Racing is very exciting.

“It will be my first Bathurst this year so that’s a pretty big challenge but I’m really looking forward to learning as much as I can from all the experienced drivers within the team.

“Dave has been doing an outstanding job in the Stratco Commodore this year so to slot in alongside him is a great opportunity. He is a young driver with a similar racing background to me so he will be able to teach me a lot and we should be a good combination.”

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