Flashback: Slade's double Winton delight

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 08/02/2021
  • By James Pavey

Tim Slade returns to the full-time fray in 2021, with the two-time race winner making his comeback with the new Blanchard Racing Team.

After seven trying seasons with Paul Morris Motorsport, Stone Brothers Racing and the Walkinshaw Racing, Slade made the leap to Brad Jones Racing in 2016.

In his first season with the Albury-based squad, he ended a long wait for victory and scaled the very top at Winton.

He had waited 227 races to score a maiden Supercars race win, but was in no mood to wait again. A day later, he went back to back, beating reigning champion Mark Winterbottom in a furious battle of speed and pit strategy.

Slade's career in the main game began in 2009 with PMM, and he finished a career-best fifth in 2012 for Stone Brothers Racing.

A breakthrough victory had eluded him, but the planets aligned at the rural Victorian circuit, which will return in May.

His two wins were displays of confidence and commanding speed, with Slade turning pole position into victory on the Saturday.

He led every lap outside the pitstop cycle and cruised to his maiden win by over four seconds, marking the ninth different winner from 10 races in 2016.

A day later, Fabian Coulthard jumped pole-sitter Chaz Mostert, who pitted early with Craig Lowndes.

That left Coulthard and fourth-starting Slade to fight it out at the front, and the latter emerged in the lead in the pits prior to a lap 19 Safety Car.

On the restart, Slade built a margin over the field, and when he pitted with 27 laps remaining, he had fresh tyres to stave off a charging Winterbottom.

The end margin was 6.8s, Slade proving his Saturday speed was no fluke.

Winning was one thing, but going back-to-back was another. It was a statement from both Slade and BJR, but neither would be able to carry on with it.

By the end of 2019, Slade was out of a full-time drive, and BJR was still searching for its first win since the Winton double.

Nick Percat broke through twice in 2020 at Sydney Motorsport Park, and finished seventh overall to bring some joy to BJR.

However, of its 14 race wins, BJR's double with Slade in 2016 remain some of its most defining results, with the veteran driver finally affirming his worth on the grid.

"I guess it's true what they say, once you get the first one out of the way, it's definitely easier the second one," he said after the Sunday race.

"I guess the first one, there is still that, for whatever reason, that element of doubt in your mind because you haven't done it before.

"Once we started getting closer to home I started thinking about burnouts and stuff like that, but I had to pull my head in and worry about keeping the thing on the track and getting it to the finish line.

"It was definitely a lot easier."

The victories were BJR's first consecutive successes since Coulthard completed a double in Tasmania in 2013.

"The category is so competitive, that you have an awesome weekend here," he said.

"You don't go into the next race thinking you are going to clean sweep that either.

"Sometimes a lot of hard work and knowledge goes into it, but sometimes there's a bit of luck goes into it as well.

"I think everything just worked in our favour this weekend and we nailed it."

Slade, who tested with BRT last week at Phillip Island, will return at the Repco Mt Panorama 500. Tickets are on sale now.

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