When the CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series reaches its crescendo during next month’s Shannons Nationals at Winton Motor Raceway, series leader Nick Kelly will have a lot on his plate.
Not only does Kelly have Rio Nugara and Matthew Stoupas within striking distance of overtaking him in the standings, the New South Welshman will also have to come to terms with a track he has never competed at.
With only a 10-lap test day under his belt at the Victorian track, Kelly remains positive of his title chances, knowing that the key to success is to study the track in the lead up so he is able to get up to speed quickly on the day.
“I feel great. I am really looking forward to it,” Kelly said.
“Winton seems really lovely. It is twisty, busy and fluid so I’ve just got to make sure I position the car perfectly when driving and remember the various modulations around the track.
“During that weekend, the half hour practice is important because it’s the only time I will have to get myself sorted against the local Melbourne boys.”
“It will be a good fair fight and all I have to do is go back to school beforehand and do my homework on Winton, study hard and pray it goes my way.”
While Kelly may be going to school to study the Winton track, it’s another competitor on the grid, who attends a different kind of school, that may have an impact on the final result.
Making a dream GT trophy debut at the penultimate round in Sydney last month, 16-year-old Ryan How ended up taking out the round, with Stoupas and Nugara finishing third and fourth respectively.
And although How may not be able to win the trophy, Kelly is hoping the year 10 student can recreate his Sydney form to shake up the grid.
“If Ryan takes out the race, good luck to him,” Kelly said.
“He is a good calm young kid with a lot of ability who has just enough resources to compete and knows the track well.
“In a lot of ways, I am actually hoping Ryan takes poles and the points that come with it because it’s a lot of weight off my shoulders.
“I am effectively coming to a new track and I am unlikely to get those pole points, so if Ryan takes them it’s good because then I just have to focus on beating the other two. “
Despite having one hand on the trophy, Kelly remains unfazed about the title hype, indicating that his main interest is to focus on the race itself and to have fun.
“I don’t want to focus on the championship, I just want to focus on getting the job done and enjoying the track,” Kelly explained.
“I guess you can look at it in a way where there is a lot of pressure on me to defend my position but really, I am going there to win a race weekend.
“I’m not thinking about any of that stuff because if it gets into the back of my mind, that could impede my performances for the whole weekend.
“My job is to enjoy the track and my time there and so whatever happens in the championship happens.”
Kelly currently sits on top of the CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series standings with 687 points to his name, while second placed Nugara and Stoupas in third hold 657 and 655 points respectively.
The Shannons Nationals at Winton Motor Raceway will take place on 1 -2 September with live coverage of Sunday’s sessions available live and free at motorsportaustraliachampionships.com.au.
An extensive library of races from 2018 is also available on-demand on the TV tab of motorsportaustraliachampionships.com.au.