Supercheap Auto Racing’s Tim Slade is preparing for his 200th V8 Supercars Championship race today at Ipswich, still searching for a maiden win.
Third fastest in Friday practice, the Ipswich event marks a return to the scene of Slade’s first podium finish, scored with Stone Brothers Racing in 2011.
A total of 10 podiums, including most recently at Hidden Valley last month, sees the 29-year-old sit second on the all-time list of most podiums without a win behind Murray Carter.
Slade’s 200 starts milestone will come in today’s second 60km sprint race, for which qualifying and the 20 lap journey will be run on the soft tyres.
While looming as a competitive force on the softs, Slade admits that the day’s hard tyre qualifying and race will pose a stern challenge for all four Walkinshaw Racing Holdens.
“Our car was horrendous on the hard tyre,” he admitted after practice.
“It’s no secret that it’s what we’re struggling with the most as a team right now, especially the one lap qualifying pace and we’re no better this weekend.
“Today we were nowhere and then bolted the soft tyre on and it felt like a race car again, it was nice.
“It’s been tough and I don’t think we’ve made too much progress in the last couple of rounds with the hard tyre in qualifying.
“But fingers crossed we can find some things that’ll work for the hard tyre stuff and at least maintain our soft tyre pace or even better it a little.”
Looking back ahead of his 200th, Slade not surprisingly nominates his trio of podium finishes at Ipswich in 2011 as a career highlight.
The result came in the South Australian’s second year at SBR, while his career was enjoying a clear upward trajectory.
“We were with SBR and this was our test track so we’d done plenty of miles around here and understood the car pretty well,” he recalled.
“When we dropped it on the track it was on fire and it stayed that way until the Sunday afternoon.
“That was definitely a highlight, alongside my one and only pole at SBR (at Homebush, 2012), where we were fifth in the championship.
“The last few years have been pretty rough, going from finishing second and fourth at Homebush to qualifying third last at Clipsal the following year with all the changes with the Erebus deal,” he added.
“That was tough to come back from and the last couple of years (moving to Walkinshaw for 2014) have been up and down as well.”
Slade currently sits 14th in the championship standings and is one of many drivers out of contract at year’s end.