Brad Jones has found plenty of positives to carry into next week’s Castrol Gold Coast 600, despite a gut-wrenching outing at Mount Panorama.
Showing strong pace – as the Brad Jones Racing Commodores often do at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 – BJR has still been unable to crack its Bathurst duck after all three cars were struck with issues.
The Freightliner entry shared by Tim Slade and Ash Walsh were the front-runners for the squad, qualifying fifth and running second before a pit stop went awry just 54 laps into the 161-lap marathon. Flames shot from the front right tyre during a botched brake pad change, which meant the entry dropped two laps. Safety cars helped the speedy Freightliner Commodore get back on the lead lap and ultimately finish an impressive seventh.
Jones is proud of the result, which he labelled “a fantastic recovery” and believes it has helped the team bond and focus on what is still to come from the BJR outfit.
“I feel we were in a position where we could’ve fought for a podium at worse, maybe a win and it didn’t work out like that,” Jones told supercars.com.
“We’ve been up here plenty of times and had the same sort of result – we had good pace, it just didn’t fall our way.
“What it did was, the team bonded well together, we worked really hard, we didn’t let it get us down and we got back in the right position and we fought hard.
“If the safety cars had’ve fallen our way a bit earlier, who’s to say we wouldn’t have been back in the race proper? So I can take a lot of positives out of the day.
“Unfortunately it’s 12 months before we get back here again, but I’m already looking forward to it because I think it was pretty strong out there.”
The team has one final crack at an enduro podium with next week’s Castrol Gold Coast 600. Jones was encouraged by Walsh’s performance – the ex-Erebus racer has been a standout across the Pirtek Enduro Cup so far – with the pair sitting eighth in the points for the championship-within-a-championship.
“We were looking pretty good there for a little while,” Jones said post-race.
“Ash did an amazing job, he had plenty of pace so it was a very bitter pill to swallow.”