FORD POLE PUTS KELLY RACING IN RARE COMPANY

Andre Heimgartner's pole at Sydney Motorsport Park means Kelly Racing has now claimed pole positions for Holden, Nissan and Ford. Pic: Supplied / Kelly Racing

ANDRE Heimgartner’s pole position for Race 12 at Sydney Motorsport Park was Kelly Racing’s first Supercars Championship pole with Ford Mustang machinery.

The team has now claimed pole positions with three different manufacturers since Kelly Racing’s inauguration in 2009 as a Holden squad.

Rick Kelly took the team’s first pole at Winton in 2010 in a Commodore, following it up with two more the following season at Hamilton and Sandown.

Kelly Racing’s period of campaigning Commodores is captured in our upcoming book Racing the Lion: An Illustrated History of Holden in Australian Motorsport, a 400-page hardcover book paying tribute to the marque’s rich competition history spanning over seven decades.

Don’t miss out and pre-order it now HERE!

The team’s Nissan era, spanning the introduction of the Car of the Future technical package in 2013 through to the end of last year, saw it add four more pole positions courtesy of Kelly and James Moffat, who took the Altima’s first pole at Queensland Raceway in 2014.

POLES WITH THREE MANUFACTURERS

Just two other teams have been able to claim Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars Championship pole positions across three different manufacturers.

The first to achieve the feat was Bob Jane’s racing team – and it did it with four!

Bob Jane aboard his famed Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Oran Park in 1971. Pic: autopics.com.au

Jane drove Jaguars to pole position for the 1962 and 1963 ATCC races, then used a new Ford Mustang to take pole for the 1965 ATCC at Sandown.

The tyre magnate is synonymous with his two-time ATCC winning Chevrolet Camaro, and he took four poles aboard it across 1971 and 1973.

Jane added Holden to his team’s list of pole-winning marques with his Sebring Orange XU-1 Torana at Symmons Plains in 1974, while Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan took both his and the Jane team’s final ATCC pole at Wanneroo in 1978 with an A9X Torana.

Glenn Seton took his first career pole with Gibson Motorsport at Lakeside in 1987. For more on his career, pre-order Seto: The Official Racing History of Glenn Seton book HERE! Pic: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers

The second team to achieve the feat was Gibson Motorsport, beginning with a haul of 10 poles across 1986 and 1987 as its turbocharged Nissan Skyline emerged as one of the cars to beat.

The final evolution of the Skyline GTS-R and arrival of the ‘GT-R’ in 1990 saw it add 11 more poles to its tally before turbo cars were banned from the ATCC at the end of 1992.

GMS switched to Holden for the new era, with Mark Skaife taking five poles across 1993 and 1994 in the team’s red Winfield Commodores.

The team made a shock switch to Ford for 2001 and prize recruit Craig Lowndes took his and the team’s first Falcon pole at the Oran Park round.

RACE WINS WITH THREE MANUFACTURERS

While Heimgartner wasn’t quite able to convert his pole position to a victory, a breakthrough Ford triumph for either he or Kelly will see the team join the list of those to win races with three or more manufacturers – which is actually a less exclusive club.

Along with Jane (11 wins with Jaguar, Ford, Chevrolet and Holden) and Gibson Motorsport (47 wins across Nissan, Holden and Ford), Tony Longhurst’s Amatil-backed squad of the late 1980s/early 1990s is also on the list of teams to win across three marques.

Tony Longhurst on his way to victory at Lakeside in 1991. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

Longhurst took the maiden Australian Touring Car Championship race win for both himself and his team at the Lakeside round in 1988, his Freeport-sponsored Ford Sierra awarded the win after Dick Johnson was penalised one minute for jumping the start.

His team continued to campaign Fords in Benson & Hedges colours until the end of 1990, and its switch to BMW M3s bore immediate fruit with Longhurst taking a pair of race wins in 1991 and 1992.

The ATCC’s adoption of the five-litre V8 formula for 1993 and the creation of an entirely separate championship series for two-litre touring cars the following year saw the team – by that point known as LoGaMo in deference to its ownership by Longhurst, Frank Gardner and Terry Morris – follow its BMW allegiances down the Super Touring path for 1994.

However, that year also saw it run a pair of Larry Perkins-sourced Commodores for Longhurst and Paul Morris in one last campaign in the ATCC, with the former’s race win at Wanneroo adding a Holden victory to its Ford and BMW triumphs.

Will Dale began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport for the next six years, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.