With a break between Winton and Darwin, supercars.com is analysing the drivers’ results and performances in this first part of the season. The racing is the closest in history, with nine different winners in 11 races.
Jason Bright, Team BOC Engineer: Paul Scalzo
Average qualifying position: 14.8 Average finishing position: 12.9 Championship position: 15 Points to leader: 414 Wins: 0 Pole positions: 0
Best result: Sixth Saturday Tassie
Low point: 25th Sunday Phillip Island
For: The oldest driver in the championship remains a top six proposition when the circumstances align for him, such as Saturday in Tassie when a good strategy exploited the BOC Commodore’s excellent soft tyre durability.
He also showed the fire certainly hadn’t gone out with a fierce willingness to mix it during that run, bump drafting Winterbottom and rubbing panels with Tander.
Bright had a run of three consecutive top 10s through Symmons Plains and Phillip Island and sat eighth in the drivers’ championship.
But that promising run was knocked off course by a puncture at the start of the 200km Philip Island race, then derailed completely by an engine failure at the end of the day that condemned him to 25th place.
His championship has yet to recover.
Nevertheless, up until Tim Slade’s breakout performance at Winton, Bright had actually been shading his new team-mate in terms of qualifying, race results and championship points.
Against: Nothing hurts more than being belted by your team-mate and while Slade was able to produce his startling display of dominance at Winton Bright lagged in the pack in qualifying and the races.
Bright told supercars.com last week that he felt there were only a few small areas in set-up where Slade had an advantage over him and that a Winton test would be a big help bridging the gap.
Darwin, where BJR traditionally excels, will be an excellent place for Bright to exploit those gains. But at best, Bright can be expected to shine intermittently rather than consistently.
Despite his age, fatherhood and full-time business career outside racing, Bright has already stated that he would like to race on full-time with BJR again in 2017.
Removing him from the seat against his wishes would be a tough call for team owners Brad and Kim Jones considering the long relationship they have with the man who delivered them their first Supercars win in 2011 and the Jason Richards Trophy in 2013.
The team: Such is the closeness of the racing any weakness in the car, team or driver is exploited ruthlessly by the opposition.
Everyone involved with car #8 is keenly aware of that and looking to rectify the issues that are keeping it down the order.
Considering the significant changes to the engineering set-up at BJR in the off-season – although Bright and Paul Scalzo stay together for a second year – it’s a big challenge.
Rating: C Remains a potent force in the right circumstances