Following the weekend's major on-track shunt, work is well underway to ensure both driver and car are ready for the next round of the Championship.
After reporting some soreness following Saturday's 12 car pile up, an MRI has revealed that Rick Kelly has sustained two minor muscle tears in his left leg. The procedure was undertaken yesterday in Melbourne and organised by the Championship's medical delegate, Dr Carl Le.
"We are very lucky to have Dr. Carl in our sport," said Rick. "Seeing how he worked on the track was impressive, but then the follow-up and organising the MRI on my leg has been unreal. The process for me has been a good one. I still had a sore leg a few days after, so we just had it checked. It confirmed I’ve got a couple of muscle tears inside my leg above my knee. They’ll heal over the next 1-2 weeks and will be brand new again. They certainly won’t stop me from driving."
Due to the severity of the collision during Saturday's race at the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint, Rick was forced to sit out the remainder of the weekend. The #15 Sengled Racing driver will race the next 4 events in the team's current spare chassis - NMS Chassis #003. A car build is underway and Kelly will receive the new Altima for Townsville in July.
Over a third of Rick Kelly's current #006 running gear has already been transferred across to the team's spare car - Chassis #003. That spare car comes with a strong backstory, including a race win and Bathurst podium. Chassis #003 was also the first Altima to hit the racetrack in 2012 and last ran at the 2015 Sydney 500 with James Moffat behind the wheel.
"Chassis #003 has had over a year off, so it's well rested and I think it’s itching to get back on the track," said Rick. "It’s definitely come from some iconic results with Moff. Particularly the podium at Bathurst in 2014 as well as the iconic victory at Winton in 2013. It’s cool to jump in that car. But it’s a shame to hop out of the car that I had. It still had the new car smell."
Nissan Motorsport Team Manager Scott Sinclair is currently overseeing the revival of the team's spare car. "Chassis #003 is now 30% built," said Scott. "All the stuff that wasn’t damaged from the other car has now been transferred across. The guys are working hard to get it built and hopefully, they’ll get a couple of days off over Easter. Then we should be ready to go early next week."
As previously announced, Chassis #003 will be making it's way to MW Motorsport to race in the Super2 Championship from Townsville onwards. This incident has brought forward Nissan Motorsport's current build schedule.
"This incident has brought our build process forward a few months," continued Scott. "That car will be off to Matt White Motorsport in Townsville. Rick will run it through until Townsville and we'll have a new car for him for that event. We currently have a car ready in manufacture that was set to be ready for Ipswich, but now it will be running at Townsville."
The silver-lining of the incident has been how it has galvanized the team together, with all departments pulling out the OT to ensure the team isn't compromised by the change.
"As much as you don’t want this to happen, it is part of the sport," said Rick. "You can’t expect to get through a whole year without this sort of thing happening. I took a walk around to each department today and it’s great to see so many aspects coming together - everything from fabrication, to machine shop, to paint booth, to composites, to sub-assembly, to engine room. It’s been great to see everyone’s positive attitude."