Slade hoping Race 20 charge signals a turnaround
Tim Slade hopes that the changes which allowed him to go from 19th to sixth in Race 20 at Queensland Raceway mark the end of a pace slump.
The Brad Jones Racing driver gained almost twice as many positions as the two next biggest movers, James Golding and Anton De Pasquale, and set the fastest lap of the 200km race.
It represented a significant upswing relative to his last five races (across Hidden Valley, Townsville, and Queensland Raceway), when Slade had finished no better than 11th at an average of 14.8.
The #14 Freightliner Holden had in fact finished a lap down in 21st position in the Sunday race at Darwin when balance woes prompted a third pit stop under Safety Car which failed to pay dividends.
Slade qualified 15th and finished 14th on the Saturday at the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint.
He was then BJR’s best in Armor All Qualifying for Race 20 despite his lowly 19th position after Nick Percat was hampered by a starter motor failure and Tim Blanchard rounded out the field.
Slade believes that the drive itself was not the most pleasing factor but rather the potential which it represents.
“The car was amazing really,” Slade told Speedcafe.com of his Sunday race.
“All of Darwin was pretty average for us, and apart from Saturday qualifying at Townsville, all of Townsville was pretty average, and then all of (Ipswich) was average until (Sunday’s) race.
“I thought we had decent momentum going before that, in Perth and Winton, but then that kind of disappeared.
“So we’ve thrown a hell of a lot of stuff at the three cars over the (last) few events and haven’t really hit the nail on the head and found what we’ve been looking for.
“(On Sunday) we had a bit of a theory with the set-up for the race and what we needed, and it came alive.
“Time will tell, but the most promising thing about the result is potentially understanding why it worked, and then hopefully we can use that theory moving forwards, and have better outright speed.
“(Race 20) was a big relief. It’s (only) sixth, but considering it came from 19th…
“The guys seem to think if we started further up then we would’ve finished even further up than what we did, and I think that was pretty evident.”
While strategy, namely around the mandated 120 litre fuel drop, played a significant role in the outcome of the race, Slade made significant gains on the race track.
Car #14 passed 10 cars on track, including five in the middle stint having been among the latter cars to take service for the first time.
“We still passed a lot of cars in pretty much every stint,” observed Slade.
“I think the key to any strategy is a fast car, and we had a fast car, and the guys maximised the strategy side of things and positioned us in the right areas on the track, traffic-wise.
“It was probably the perfect race, really, other than when I had to go to the outside of (James Courtney) and (Mark) Winterbottom there at Turn 4 (when they came together on Lap 1).
“Other than that, it was pretty good. I think all the (pit) stops were mega, even (on Saturday), so they’re on top of that, which is awesome.
“The guys work their arses off and the last few events have been a bit of a grind for everyone, so it’s just nice to get a bit of a result for once.”
Having dropped a position to 11th in the championship after Saturday’s result, Slade is now 10th on the table heading to the Red Rooster Sydney SuperNight 300 on August 3-4.