Dylan O’Keeffe says he’s feeling “optimistic and excited” ahead of his debut drive in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 tomorrow.
O’Keeffe, his team-mate Andre Heimgartner and the Kelly Racing team finalised their preparations for the 1,000km endurance marathon in today’s two practice sessions, completing laps on varying fuel loads and rehearsing driver and brake rotor changes, along with pit entry and exit procedures.
With the conditions at Mount Panorama evolving throughout the day, O’Keeffe said the car behaviour was constantly changing.
“On one hand, there is more rubber on the track than there was on Thursday or Friday, so the grip levels are higher,” O’Keeffe said.
“However, the wind direction was constantly changing, which was affecting the car’s balance in certain parts of the circuit.
“The experience I gained today will be valuable tomorrow, because we’re expecting the weather conditions to be variable.
“Overall, today was positive – my pace was solid on old tyres and Andre was punching out consistent times when he was in the car. We practised pit stops and driver changes and we’re confident we’ll be able to execute them efficiently during the race.”
The forecast wet weather for tomorrow’s race has seen the start time brought forward to 11:00am. Each car will be required to make seven compulsory pit stops, while each driver may complete no more than 107 of the 161-lap race distance.
According to O’Keeffe, strategy options for the race are flexible and likely to be determined by the weather.
“Because we’re expecting a mixture of wet and dry running tomorrow, it’s going to be one of those races where it will be important to adapt on the run and make smart calls depending on changes in the weather or Safety Cars,” he said.
“The Kelly Racing crew are on the ball and if we can make the right calls in the heat of battle, that will definitely be an advantage.”
O’Keeffe and Heimgartner will have one more chance for a final “systems check” in tomorrow morning’s warm-up at 8:30am, ahead of the Great Race commencing at 11:00.