RICK Kelly has announced he will step down from full-time driving in the Supercars Championship, effective immediately.
The truncated 2020 season was the 37-year-old’s 19th full-time in the championship, having joined the series in 2002 after a handful of appearances during 2001.
The winner of the 2006 series championship, a two-time Bathurst 1000 winner, Kelly won 13 races and took 57 podium finishes across 583 championship race starts in Supercars so far, and is also a former winner of the Motorsport Australia Gold Star for his title-winning Formula Holden season in 2001.
No replacement has been named for the driver of his team’s #15 Ford Mustang for the 2021 season.
“While the 2020 season draws to a close so does my full time Supercars driving career,” Kelly said in a statement released by Kelly Racing.
“Firstly, I have really loved the opportunity to drive the Castrol backed Ford Mustang in its first year with Kelly Racing. There were many challenges put forward in 2020 with Covid and the Mustang program in its infancy at Kelly Racing which both have made on track results tough at times. It hasn’t been the fairy-tale ending that I would love to have gone out with, but I have to step off the merry-go-round at some point and i personally feel that the right time is now.
“Whilst as a driver you always want to win, and externally your on-track results hold the biggest influence on your report card, and as you’d expect from any athlete, I’ll leave wanting more. But one thing’s for sure, I will step away satisfied with having always having given my best and never giving in, no matter how far back we were.
“As a whole I’m proud of what we have achieved as a Team over the last decade. We have relentlessly pushed hard, worked directly with 3 different manufacturers and represented some of the most recognised brands in the world, and delivered some great programs off the track, from creating a talent search reality TV show through to having pictures of our fans ride with us at Bathurst.
“I’d like that thank the Team at Kelly Racing, and also congratulate each and every team member for what they have been able to deliver this year. It’s been nothing short of impressive. I’d also like to thank all of the past team members that I have worked with over the last 20 years. I have worked with so many great people in this sport. And massive thank you to all of the business partners that have supported me throughout my career both past and present.
“One of the biggest contributors to our sport is the fans, and over the years I have enjoyed many great friendships from loyal supporters. Thanks to each and every one of you for having our back through thick and thin, your loyalty and passion was always appreciated.
“I have had a solid hustle over the past 20 years in motorsport, never really sitting still. So as far as what the future holds for me personally, as I step away from Kelly Racing I’ll firstly take some time to reflect on my decision and then go about planning a solid attack on the next chapter of my life, whatever that might be.”