Kelly reveals bold ambition for new Ford Mustang
RICK Kelly is sweating on his team's switch to the Ford Mustang delivering the competitive race car he has been craving.
But the Supercars veteran admits Kelly Racing is still in a fight against time to make sure its new Ford package is race ready for the season-opener in Adelaide next week.
As Kelly unveiled his 2020 Mustang at Federation Square in Melbourne on Monday, the two-time Bathurst 1000 winner said the team was working "day and night" to get the car prepped for a shakedown this week.
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After completing the in-house build of its Ford engine last week, the machinery is now with the Supercars technical team in Queensland for verification and testing.
The team hopes to complete a shakedown at Winton on Wednesday - just six days before the pre-season test day at Tailem Bend, with first practice for the Adelaide 500 two days later.
"The guys were working through the weekend and day and night to get it to a point where we can hopefully achieve that (shakedown) this week," Kelly said.
"The first engine that we'll homologate is in Brisbane and then it will go through a series of tests with the category up there to see where it sits compared to everyone else.
"While that's happening we are finishing the final build on the two Mustangs to be taken to the track to do a systems check and make sure the car operates OK and then from there we head to Tailem Bend for the official test.
"It's probably going to be a bit of a trial and error start to the year for us to understand what we've got and go from there."
After seven years racing a Nissan Altima, Kelly Racing announced after Bathurst last year it was switching to the championship-winning Ford Mustang for 2020.
As the Scott McLaughlin Mustang dominated amid ongoing parity debate last year, Kelly fell to his lowest finish in the Supercars championship standings since 2002 (17th).
But the 37-year-old hoped the new Mustang could deliver the competitive package that could propel him through the field.
"The biggest thing for me is to get back into a competitive car and then you can understand where you sit compared to everyone else," the 2006 Supercars champion said.
"Unfortunately I haven't been a position to have a package that's been the same as the rest in recent times … last year was a really tough year for us.
"We just need to get ourselves back into a position where we have got the equipment to do the job and then we can sit where we sit."
Kelly's already excited by the look of the Mustang in the team's workshop.
"When we built the Mustang it was sitting in the workshop next to the Nissan Altima and I can tell you it's a very different race car, it like it's from two different race series," he said.
"This one's a lot lighter, the body's held on by a lot less. In theory when you look at the two side-by-side it should be a better performing race car. That's why we've made the change."