Brad Jones Racing finally managed to jag a clear day at test track Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria yesterday – but there was so much to tick off the list, the team will continue testing on Monday to get through it all.
Team manager Chris Clark said it had been a beautiful day – finally – and the team had uncovered some interesting information.
“I definitely think we struck some goals, we made some good gains and found some very interesting information, so I feel it was a very productive day,” Clark told v8supercars.com.au after yesterday’s test.
“The way I look at it, if I had the money and the test days, I’d be squeezing them in everywhere! But you do what you can with what you’ve got.”
BJR had intended to test prior to the event at its home track, but elected to abort the plan when it was met by bad weather. With three tests delayed because of rain, during his eight years with the team, Clark had never before had that kind of hold up. So the list of things to test has been growing.
“We’re just finding and going through parametres – going backwards and forwards, as in taking a setting from one extreme to the other,” he said. “And the other part of it is quantifying stuff we haven’t had the opportunity to try … we prioritised things we definitely need to sort out and others we’d like to try.
“There were no mishaps at all. We did a big session in the middle of the day of endurance pit stop practice – driving into the box, driver change between co-drivers and the main game guys, brake pad changing – all the things you do every year prior to the start of the big endurance races. It’s good to have the boys on their toes!”
Now with the PIRTEK Enduro Cup next on the calendar, it’s important co-drivers get as much time in the cars as possible.
“You’re only as good as your enduro driver,” Clark said. “It’s so important to give them time in the car, give them a feel for what they need to do, practice starts – and that’s been a weak point of ours, so we’re trying different strategies and so forth to get that working.
“To give them an opportunity to run around and get some decent laps in, it’s a hugely important part of endurance racing. And to let them have some good rubber.”
The biggest positive of the day? “There’s a few, but I’m not going to tell you what they are!”
While BJR had previously tested a complete version of the updated Albins gearbox, the team did not test any V8 Supercars parts yesterday. The updated gearbox has now moved on to Todd Kelly’s Nissan Altima – and was run during the weekend’s Winton 360 – and will remain with the team for its ride day at Calder Park in Victoria next Monday, as the circuit is typically tough on the driveline. The gearbox will later head to Ford Performance Racing.
BJR has been one of the front-runners this season, with both Jason Bright (Team BOC) and Fabian Coulthard (Lockwood Racing) having accumulated five wins between them across the 27 completed races. Both were strong at the Winton 360 over the weekend, with one of the two on the podium for each of the three races, and Wilson Security stablemate David Wall scoring a career-best finish with 10th in Race 26.
So, given the results, Clark didn’t feel the team had fallen behind over the period it had been unable to test.
“We have still been strong … It was fantastic to have three cars in the top 10, I’ll tell you! It’s a great achievement – in V8 Supercars, top 10 is fantastic. I remember five years ago thinking to myself, ‘top 15, how good is this’. And now we’re second and I think, ‘gee, I wish we’d won that’.”
And what was it like to run the day without team boss Brad Jones present?
“Who?” Clark joked. “It’s fine. Brad doesn’t necessarily have to come to the test days. We work well together, Brad and I are in contact on the phone during the course of the day.”
Jones had spoken to v8supercars.com.au earlier and said while it was beneficial to test at a track recently raced on, Sandown Raceway would be a very different kettle of fish.
“But you get into enduro mode now,” Jones said. “It’s critical driver changes work well, brake changes – you dust the cobwebs off a little bit.
“It wasn’t that long ago we did a fuel race (Townsville).
“We’re going ok but this was an opportunity for another run prior to Sandown.
“We want a good run into the enduros and have had only one test day so far this year, so it’s good to get through some of the stuff that has backlogged a little.”
Bright is pairing with Jones’ nephew Andrew Jones (who finished third in the Dunlop Series round at Winton), Coulthard with Luke Youlden (sixth for the Dunlop Series round) and Wall with Chris Pither (16th for the round).
After Saturday’s race at the Winton 360, Coulthard and Bright were tied in the Championship points, but now sit fifth and seventh respectively, with Wall 23rd.