Tim Slade has paid credit to his Brad Jones Racing crew for giving him a car and strategy to fight with after driving ‘like a gumby’ early in Race 10.
Slade charged home to ninth position in the 45-lap, 200km conclusion to the WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint, despite having started 20th and run 15th in the middle segment of the race in the Alliance ZB Commodore.
In a not uncommon BJR strategy, he and team-mate Macauley Jones were the last two take their first pit stops on Laps 14 and 15 respectively, then again second time around on Laps 30 and 31.
Those choices virtually evened out the tyre load across the three stints, on a day when most were pitting shortly after the CPS window opened and again not far beyond the critical lap, motivated at least in part by the closure of pit lane under any Safety Car period (which did not eventuate in Race 10).
Scott McLaughlin, for example, started the second pit stop cycle on Lap 16 and therefore had to make his finishing set of tyres last almost twice as long as Slade did.
Slade emerged in 14th position but was armed with fresher rubber than those around him, which saw him pick off five cars on the road and take the chequered flag 0.5806s in arrears of Rick Kelly.
“Qualifying was massively disappointing,” recalled Slade on Fox Sports’ Supercars Trackside.
“We didn’t really have great speed and then I stuffed up my best lap with a lock-up at Honda (Turn 4 Hairpin).
“The car was horrendous in the first stint, I felt like the world’s biggest gumby wobbling around out there.
“Fortunately, the guys tuned it up so I felt like less of a gumby in the next two stints.
“We didn’t really have great outright speed, but I just think with that tyre lap difference compared to everyone else we were obviously able to mow them down and get through most. Just had Rick at the end there who was pretty hard to get by.
“Thanks to the team for a mega strategy.”
Kelly had in fact bottled up Slade’s team-mate Nick Percat and Erebus Motorsport’s David Reynolds in the closing stages, which saw the Castrol Altima’s rear bar cop some treatment from the 7-Eleven BJR car.
The stoush played into Slade’s hands when he was able to make an opportunist move on Reynolds into The Hayshed on Lap 41 before getting underneath Percat at the final corner on Lap 42.
Kelly, however, continued to hold firm until the chequered flag.
“I’m glad to hear that (it was an entertaining battle),” said Slade.
“It would have been nice to get past Rick and I think that would have been job complete for the arvo but, as we know, he’s pretty hard to get by and does a good job.”
Slade remains eighth in the championship, one position and 10 points behind Percat.