FRUSTRATING - it is no great surprise that is the word Rick Kelly uses to describe his 2019 Supercars season thus far.
The man who was once crowned a Supercars champion has only managed one win since switching from a Holden Commodore to a Nissan Altima in season 2013, and this year sits 17th in the driver standings with a sixth at Townsville his best result.
Kelly also freely admits that Sunday's Bathurst 1000 will be a huge test - his best Great Race finish behind the wheel of an Altima was an eighth in 2014.
"It's certainly going to be a challenging event for us because I think a lot of the races this year are being won off the track in fighting for a competitive package more than and turning up and knowing that everyone has got a similar shot at it," he said.
"It's been a little bit, from a drivers' point of view, frustrating. I think at the moment our car, as it sits from the last round, is probably a little bit behind the other two manufacturers."
But for all his frustration at not being rated a contender for this year's edition of the Bathurst 1000 - a race he has won twice - Kelly is still determined to do all he can to find success at Mount Panorama.
The now 36-year-old who will share his seat with Dale Wood is drawing on all he has learned in his 18 previous Great Race campaigns. He knows preparation is key, as is putting his frustrations out of his mind and focusing on what lies ahead.
"We are working hard on what Bathurst looks like for us and what we can do to try and be a little more competitive and closer," he said.
"From a team point of view that's a pretty big focus, but from a driver's point of view, that's not something that's within our control, we're trying to put that out of our head. Obviously I'm just focusing on turning up and concentrating on the things which are within my control within the car and working with the engineer really well.
"Then there's getting Dale on board as the co-driver and working on driver changes with him and getting all the stuff sorted with things which are my responsibility, I want to get all of those right.
"I need to do that while everyone else in the team is working on the overall package to make sure we've got as a good a shot as we can make.
"It's important to get all those things right and sometimes the fastest car doesn't win, but it helps."
As Kelly admits, his #15 Altima does not have the pace of many of the Ford Mustangs or Holden ZB Commodores in the Supercars field. Across the 24 races staged thus far, he has only qualified in the top 10 three times.
It means there will be more pressure on him and his team to execute the other variables - things like pit stops and strategy - perfectly. Even then Kelly knows there is no guarantee of success.
"You can have a few things go wrong and finish in the top three because everyone's had a colourful day, but in preparation you need to make sure that everything is on your side and one of those that really does make the day a lot easier, flow a lot better and take the pressure off the drivers, is when you've got a really fast car," he said.
"I've been at Bathurst when we've had a really clean run and nothing has gone wrong with us and we've driven a good, hard race and finished 16th because no-one else, the bulk of the field, hasn't had any major dramas.
"If you've got to drive it at 11 10ths and you're still not quite on the pace, it makes for a really challenging day. If have got the pace you can recover from small dramas better. So that's what the big thing is with Bathurst, to try and engineer yourself into a position where you've got great pace."
Knowing that to find car speed gains is not an easy task, Kelly has not set himself any goals in terms of where he hopes to finish Sunday's Bathurst 1000.
Instead the veteran of 250 championship rounds said his aim is to do the best possible job with the package he has.
"I've done it for a lot of years and I think it's silly putting an exact finishing result down as an aim," Kelly said.
"Of course we want to win the race, but for me and any athlete that's prepared properly, it's about being satisfied with the job you've done at the end of it.
"So if I've come in well prepared, done a good job in quali, got the most out of the car and a seamless race on a personal level and I've got 10th and that was the best result that I think was possible, then you've got to leave satisfied.
"That brings it back to what is your aim? It's to get the most out of the opportunity that is in front of you. If a win is possible for us, then that will be the end game, if that's not possible and a fifth or a 10th are the best possible result we can get with our package, then that's going to be what we're satisfied with provided we got the most out of that opportunity."
While Kelly is certainly realistic about his chances this year, there is also no doubt he would love to add to his 2003 and 2004 Bathurst 1000 triumphs.
"You've got to be realistic otherwise you're just going to end up disappointed and to be honest, it's really hard not to leave Bathurst disappointed when you haven't won the event," he said.
"I remember I finished second there behind Lowndes and chased him down over the finish line, got it down to six tenths as we crossed the line and that was probably the most painful result I got at Bathurst because we were that close to winning it and came up short. It's just an example of how we feel about that event and how tough it is leaving when you haven't had that ultimate success."