Tim Blanchard will decide whether he drives on in 2018 around the enduros, after securing a Supercars Racing Entitlement Contract (REC) so he can run his own team.
It’s effectively a clean swap this year, with Jason Bright and his REC running at Prodrive in the hole left by Super Black Racing. SBR sold its REC to Blanchard, who will operate out of Brad Jones Racing, the team he raced with in 2016.
Blanchard expressed a desire to stay with BJR long-term. And now he has his own team to think about, Blanchard will put his driving under scrutiny in 2017 as he focuses on the future.
“For me, I don’t want to just be on the grid because I can – if I’m not competitive and not achieving the goals I’ve set myself then there’s no point continuing,” Blanchard told supercars.com.
“I’d rather step back and see the car doing well and be involved in running the car than driving it.
“But right now, I’m focused on having a second year with the same team for the first time – working with the same engineers and having the same car.
“So I’m really looking forward to that stability and trying to get the most out of my potential.”
Purchasing the REC cements the Blanchard family and CoolDrive’s long-term commitment to Supercars – Blanchard explained that they wanted more than just sponsoring a car.
“I think the whole family is quite interested in the sport, we want to have a vested interest in it past my driving career,” he said.
“We’d like to have a vested interest above and beyond just being a sponsor of a car.”
While Blanchard ultimately wants to run the team when the right time comes, this year the Jones brothers will take most of the control to allow Blanchard to focus on his driving. He finished 23rd in the 2016 championship with a best race finish of 10th at Bathurst with Macauley Jones co-driving.
“For next year (2017) I’ll stay with Brad Jones Racing obviously and not much will change.
“I guess from a paperwork point of view, I’ll own the team but Brad will look after the running of the team and everything involved in it. So I will just do the minimum requirements I have to do.
“From a driving perspective we’ll see how we go – around the enduros next year I’ll decide whether I step down or continue on from there.
“If I step down obviously the next step for me would be to take more of a role in managing the team – but that’s something I’d have to work through with Brad.
“We want to stay with Brad Jones racing long-term so we’ll have to see how that works out ad what’s best for me and what works for Brad.”
Working side by side with the Jones brothers is a good exercise in itself for Blanchard regardless of when he decides to take the step back. He juggles racing with a job as marketing manager of CoolDrive, so he believes he has valuable experience he can pool together when the time comes to head the team.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of teams but I haven’t run a team so there’s still a lot for me to learn and understand what is involved in that,” he said.
“Once I finish the driving full-time that’s something I’ll have to do a bit of an apprenticeship in, how to run a team.
“I feel like I’ve got a fair bit of experience managing a team of people form my day job … I’ve got a fair bit of experience in motorsport, so combining those two there’s a good starting point but it’s still a very tough sport and I’ve still got a lot to learn.”
Blanchard draws confidence from one-car team TEKNO Autosports, which has been a consistent contender as a customer of Triple Eight.
“They’ve won races and Bathurst and done incredibility well for themselves – so I think long-term, down the road, I’d like to see our car up in the top 10 in the championship somewhere.