01 Mar 2018
A NEW engine supplier and brand new cars for the 2018 season has South Australian drivers Nick Percat and Tim Slade heading into their home race hopeful of an improved year.
By Matthew Agius
BRAD JONES RACING is putting its best foot forward with brand new cars for the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Despite a tough campaign in 2017, BJR’s two South Australian pilots Nick Percat and Tim Slade are feeling confident about the prospects of a stronger showing this year.
Slade topped the timesheets at the recent full-field test day in Sydney, with Percat sixth and Tim Blanchard 12th overall.
It’s a positive early sign for the Albury-based team, which opted to build brand new cars for 2018 with the move to the ZB Commodore.
They’ll debut in anger at this weekend’s Adelaide 500, which celebrates its 20th edition.
One-time winner Percat says the team took real encouragement from the result in Sydney.
“It was a very good day obviously, we’ve built two brand new ZB Commodores, and a brand new sponsor in Blackwoods, so it was an important day for us as a team,” Percat said.
“To end the day first and fifth is very encouraging, Sladey was under lap record and we weren’t far behind.
“By the time we get through this weekend, we’ll know where we stack up.”
Beyond rebuilding both chassis for the season ahead, Brad Jones Racing also changed to KRE Engines as its powerplant supplier.
Those engines are also under the bonnets of the series benchmark Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodores, which is encouraging knowledge for both drivers.
“To sit there and know you have the same engine as the guy with No. 1 on the door means there’s not an issue there any more,” Percat said.
“For us it’s just about getting the most out of our chassis.”
Slade struggled to replicate his strong 2016 form last year, but like Percat took the positives out of the scorching pace displayed at Sydney Motorsport Park.
“There are no trophies given out on test days but it was a good bit of reward for the team, because they did a monumental amount of work up to that test day,” Slade said.
“It’s all looking positive, the only thing is that Sydney Motorsport Park compared to here in Adelaide is quite different.
“This weekend is a little bit of an unknown with the new car, but the cars were fairly speedy here last year.”
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