Lessons learned in the Sydney pre-season test could pay dividends for Brad Jones Racing at this weekend’s Beaurepaires Melbourne SuperSprint.
BJR arrives in Melbourne off the back of a strong start to the year, with Andre Heimgartner equal fourth in the points after the Thrifty Newcastle 500.
It was Heimgartner who kicked off the Gen3 era on the front foot at last month’s Sydney Motorsport Park test day.
Heimgartner paced both sessions on what was a weather-affected day, although there was pace in all four BJR Chevrolet Camaros.
All four BJR cars finished in the top six in Sydney, which carries similar traits to the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit.
Bryce Fullwood, Macauley Jones and Jack Smith are 13th, 21st and 23rd heading to the Beaurepaires Melbourne SuperSprint.
Given his solid start to 2023, Heimgartner, who recently became a father, is determined to improve on his first visit to Albert Park with BJR.
Last year, the Kiwi's Albert Park race results read 15th, DNF, 18th and 17th.
“[Newcastle] is very, very different, it’s SMP style,” Heimgartner told the Schick Cool Down Lap podcast.
“We’ll have to wait and see. We struggled there a bit last year, we had some issues with the car and didn’t have much pace.
“This year we’ll be trying to maximise what we have… we’ll see how we go.”
Team owner Brad will be joined by son Macauley in the 150-start club, with the latter to make his 150th race start this weekend.
Jones junior is braced for the challenge, given this weekend sees the return of sprint racing, mixed tyres and a vastly different circuit compared to Newcastle.
The second-generation racer has extra reason to be excited for Albert Park, given he recorded his career-best result there in 2022.
Jones finished a strong sixth in last year’s Albert Park opener, which remains his best solo finish to date.
However, Jones reiterated that this weekend will be an even greater challenge, given the unknowns of the Super Soft and Hard tyre with the new cars.
Brad has 225 starts to Macauley's 148
“Because it is so high speed and it was a brand new surface last year, you've got a lot of load in the car,” Jones explained on the BJR Run Down podcast.
“It's pushing into the tyre and when it is pushing for such long corners like it is at AGP, it overheats the tyre and then it starts to blister.
“It starts to fly apart pretty much and so that's what we sort of think was happening last year and we’re unsure if it's going to happen this year.
"We definitely have a lot less load with the less aero, it's going to be quite significant.
“Sliding the tyre on the road is what sort of creates the heat and you know that's definitely going to be happening. So it will be interesting to see if that is going to be at play.
"It kind of does depend as well as like how soft is a Super Soft… you're going to find out on the day.
“The track evolves quite heavily from the Thursday to the Sunday. And another big difference is that F2 and F3 are there this year where that hasn't been the case."
The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the Beaurepaires Melbourne SuperSprint on March 30-April 2.