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.
Tim Slade, Freightliner Racing Engineer: Julian Stannard
Average qualifying position: 12.7 Average finishing position: 12.1 Championship position: 7 Points to leader: 264 Wins: 2 Pole positions: 1
Best result: Winton, both wins
Breaking through for his maiden victory in his 227th Supercars race on Saturday was a moment to remember. Backing it up on Sunday showed fine form at the team’s test track.
Low point: Saturday Clipsal 500, 26th
After spearing off onto an escape road, Slade struggled to get his Supercar in reverse. The flat bed came for him, but he did not want to be taken and was animatedly yelling and flailing his hands in the car, to no avail.
For: Slade acknowledged it was easier to win once he had the monkey off his back – he’s chalked up two wins now.
In 2012 racing with Stone Brothers, he was the ‘best of the rest’ finishing fifth in the Championship behind Triple Eight and FPR (now Prodrive).
Slade is enjoying the environment and mateship of Albury-based outfit BJR and seems to perform best when he is happy.
Against: He’s done it when the car was good, now we need to see Slade wrangle a result and finish better than where the car is at. BJR is traditionally strong at Winton – can Slade back it up at other circuits?
Slade built margins of 4.3sec and 6.6sec in the two races – how would he have gone with red-hot pressure on him from behind?
The team was raring to test with a focus in mind, but bad weather at Winton during both available days means BJR will wait, with an August date in mind – meaning the team will get through three more events before testing.
The team: Brad Jones Racing is a solid outfit – and we won’t say it’s punching above its weight, a saying team boss Brad doesn’t agree with. The Freightliner squad is yet to reach heights of predecessors Fabian Coulthard and Phil Keed – the #14 was third in the championship after five rounds last year. But this year’s combination is brand new, and those within the team insist there is no gaping hole left with those two now at DJR Team Penske.
Breaking through was impressive, now we need more of it.