THE man who set the time everyone will be chasing this weekend gazed into the puddles at Symmons Plains yesterday in the knowledge that his benchmark is likely to remain for another year at least.
Four years ago, Rick Kelly tore around the 2.4-kilometre Launceston circuit in 51.4713 seconds, which remains the V8 Supercar lap record.
``I remember it was the first ever round on soft tyres here,'' said the 2006 series champion.
``They say it's the same tyre as now but I don't think it is and that's why the lap record was broken then because we'd only ever been here on hard compounds before that.''
The 31-year-old Victorian, who co-owns Jack Daniel's Racing with brother Todd, is modest about the achievement and admits he cannot remember the specifics of the lap.
``It's not really a big deal because anyone who really went for it that weekend could probably have achieved it. It's good to have your name up there but really that's not what we're here for, we're here to try and win races.
``Symmons is a track where you've got to get every little bit right because last year just half a second separated the top 20. It's a short track with a long straight but has a reasonable variety of corners and of course a really slow hairpin so as a driver you need the whole package here.''
Kelly, whose motor sport credentials include the 2001 Australian Formula Ford championship, 2002 V8 Supercar rookie of the year plus two Bathurst wins, swapped his Holden for a Nissan last year and arrives at Symmons sitting fourth in the championship, 84 points behind leader Craig Lowndes.
While his own lap record may come under threat, Kelly was in no doubt that the all-time Symmons Plains benchmark of 50.16 was safe as houses, having been set by Alfie Costanzo in a Lola T430 F5000 in 1980 _ three years before Kelly was born.
Three practice sessions will be held for the V8 Supercars at Symmons today followed by two races tomorrow afternoon and a third on Sunday.