Rising star

  • 25/11/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Brad Jones believes he can turn 2016 recruit Tim Slade into a star, as his team did with Fabian Coulthard, who joined Brad Jones Racing from Walkinshaw Racing for the 2012 season.

It was confirmed last night on Inside Supercars that Slade would fill the seat of the DJR Team Penske-bound Kiwi next season.

Jones expressed his absolute faith in Slade and believes the close-knit environment of BJR would allow him to shine.

“I absolutely believe in him – if I didn’t think he could do the job, I wouldn’t be having him in the car,” Jones told v8supercars.com.au.

“Fabian hadn’t won a race when he came here … and Timmy has gone close to winning a few races.”

Set to race a final round in Supercheap Auto colours, South Australian Slade is yet to finish first in a V8 Supercars race, but netted fifth in the Championship with Stone Brothers Racing in 2012 and has earned 10 podium finishes, including second in Darwin earlier this year. 

By contrast, Coulthard – who previously described the opportunity with BJR as a “lifeline” – had just one podium result and a best of 12th in the Championship when he headed to the Albury team.

Since then, he has earned five wins – including a race at the Clipsal 500 – finished a close sixth in the championship in 2013 and was at one stage the key player in this year’s driver movements.

He has ultimately taken one of the most sought-after seats in pit lane with DJR Team Penske, shifting with his current engineer Phil Keed to the Queensland-based outfit for 2016.

While Jones doesn’t want to make any big statements, he is quietly confident Slade will deliver, after positive recommendations from others in pit lane.

“I think he has got a really good feel for what a car does – I’ve spoken to Ross Stone about it, and we did as much due diligence as a group as we could.

“I’m feeling we made a very good choice.”

As pit lane rumour suggested, David Reynolds was also in the frame for the drive, but ultimately held out, hoping for an offer from current team Prodrive.

He will land at Erebus for 2016 and Jones was pleased to lock in Slade for the Freightliner Racing seat.

Jones wasn’t putting any pressure on for immediate results, understanding it could take time for everything to gel.

“I think he can get the job done for us – but I don’t want to make any bold predictions, because it’s hard,” Jones said.  

“You make statements and look back on them in hindsight, and especially with changes going on it takes a little while to find your feet sometimes when things are different.

“We need to keep our heads down, get the job done and do what we always do – which is press on as hard as we can.”

It is expected Slade will line-up alongside Jason Bright, who has been with BJR since 2010 and has an informal deal with Jones year-on-year.

The team’s third car is still a mystery, with Dale Wood departing to Nissan for 2016. Tim Blanchard and Andre Heimgartner had both been linked to the drive on Inside Supercars.

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