Rick Kelly’s Road To Bathurst

Owen Kelly heads out for practice 2

It’s weird flying the opposite direction to  your destination… but that is exactly what I did less than a week ago.

The end destination was the iconic Mt Panorama in Bathurst and the infamous Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar race… but the start was Melbourne.

THE JOB: A fly on the wall documentary of V8 super car driver Rick Kelly’s road to Bathurst… an entire week of being embedded with the Kelly Racing team and shooting the good’s, the bad’s and the high’s and low’s of the Bathurst story in digital imagery – uploaded into cyberspace nightly.

And it all began with one big road trip.

A long road to Bathurst

Two days from Melbourne through the Victorian countryside and endless vistas of golden Canola fields as we travelled North on perfect cloudless spring days. Rick and his fiancée Elysia mixing Snoop Dog with Dire Straits tunes and churning the miles in their luxury Winnebago whilst I jumped between the second vehicle and Kellymobile.

A night camping in Wagga Wagga saw a quick mountain bike for Rick at sunset before a meal and snooze. More miles were put under the belt the following morning and at mid-afternoon the famous Mt Panorama silhouette appeared on the horizon.

The famous track

The afternoon saw the crew arrive and massive B-double road trains unloaded with tools, cars and spares moved to the pit garages before the sun set and the mist settled in for a cool night in NSW’s inland town.

Wednesday broke to team briefings as the cloud slowly rolled in overhead. the final build of the powerful V8 engines rapidly took centre stage in garages while a near empty race circuit began preparations for opening to the public with the first practice session scheduled for Thursday morning. All the while with the pit crew train in tyre stops, refuelling and how rapidly an entire disc and pad change can be made, all training taking place under the ever-present stopwatch.

Unloading the precious cargo

Gonna need a few of these throughout the weekend - but ideally with tyres on

Tweaking the car

Thursday (today) dawned to the first ‘open’ day of the meet. The track was opened as the heavens simultaneously opened and wet tyres were fitted to all cars as they roared around the circuit in a bid to gain as much feedback to radio the garage as possible, enabling mechanics to tailor the vehicle specifically to each driver and the track, searching for the perfect setup.

Cam Cox practices a refuel stop

Pretty head garb 🙂

Practice one led quickly to practice two with pace varying between, teams, setups, cars and drivers… but soon controversy reared its ugly head with an issue surrounding wet weather tyres. Massive demand for the wet tyres and the questioning of whether different batches of tyres offer an advantage or disadvantage was whispered amongst the pit crews.

Thursday practice was all 'wets'

Rick checks the tyre degridation on the wet compound

On the official V8 Super car website, it stated,

“Dunlop’s V8 Supercar Operations Manager Kevin Fitzsimons told BigPond Sport;

“Prior to Bathurst there was a total of 600 wet weather tyres in stock in the country,” said Fitzsimons.

“The most we’ve ever sold at Bathurst previously is just shy of 220. Today alone we have already sold 250.

“When we got down to around 350 tyres in total we stopped supply, until we square everybody up so that no team is disadvantaged.”

Series officials are now auditing each teams’ current stock of wet weather tyres.

A meeting at 5.30pm today will determine how the remaining wet weather tyre stock will be regulated for the rest of the event.”

The tyre issue along with the ongoing rain and a sudden insurgence of mist and fog soon put an end to practice session 3 and so we all await now with bated breath to discover what tomorrow will produce for the country’s biggest V8 round and one of Australia’s most iconic motor races.

I will bring you more from the track whenever I find the opportunity.

…. check out:

http://www.redbull.com.au for more photos and videos of ‘Road to Bathurst’

http://www.kellyracing.com.au for continual updates on the team and their progress through the weekend

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About inciteimages

A magazine recently profiled my life and pretty much hit the nail on the head: Australian adventure photographer (and occasional journalist) Mark Watson is a liar. He suggests his job is “not so glamorous,” but drop him an email and his ‘out of office auto response’ will inform he’s heli-skiing New Zealand or trekking Patagonia. In downtime he surfs and mountain bikes Sydney’s Northern Beaches or can be spied drinking café latte’s on the beachfront when he should be editing photos. He’s a Nikon Ambassador and Red Bull Australia’s No.1 photographer, and after a few Corona’s, admits, “I photograph cool people, in cool places, doing cool things!” Quickly followed by the disclaimer “It’s not always exciting…” But always said with a mischievous grin. View all posts by inciteimages

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