Hazelwood: Time to take career to the next level
By Tom Howard
Friday 29th November, 2019 - 6:00am
Todd Hazelwood says a move to Brad Jones Racing represents an opportunity to take his Supercars career to the next level in 2020.
After a difficult rookie year in 2018, the 24-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance this season having scored a career best fourth in qualifying at Townsville in addition to three top 10 results, including a best of fifth in Race 24 at Pukekohe.
Next season offers Hazelwood a chance to progress his career by joining Supercars stalwarts BJR, a team that regularly contends for top 10s and has scored a podium in every season since 2010.
While the South Australian is grateful for his six years at MSR, he is eagerly anticipating the chance to challenge for a maiden podium finish in 2020.
“I’m really looking forward to being able to push myself that bit more,” Hazelwood, who will replace Tim Slade at BJR, told Speedcafe.com.
“I’ve been a part of the Matt Stone Racing family for six years now, and I’ve only ever ventured outside of that team once, very briefly and that was obviously at Brad Jones Racing back in 2017 for the enduro role.
“Leaving Matt Stone Racing was a tough thing to do but at the end of the day, I feel like we’ve achieved a lot together.
“I feel like the time is right to take my career to the next level now and obviously a big part of that is going to Brad Jones Racing.
“They’re one of the biggest teams in Supercars, equally the largest team next year.
“To go from a small single car team to making that transition is something that I’m really looking forward to seeing what challenges are involved and just taking it on with both hands.
“It’s very exciting. I can see the potential there and I can see no reason why we can’t have a great year next season.
“It’s great to see what BJR have been able to achieve especially in the last six months as well.
“I feel like they’ve got a car that’s really strong over a race distance and I think it showed over the Newcastle weekend that the potential is there if you get it right.
“It would be really nice to get my first podium with Brad Jones Racing next year.”
Moving to BJR will see Hazelwood go up against a team-mate for the first time in the Supercars Championship, with the Adelaide native joining the experienced Nick Percat, Macauley Jones and fellow new signing Jack Smith.
Working with team-mates and particularly Percat is an aspect the young gun is looking forward to.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Nick. I think he is one of the hardcore racers in the field,” added Hazelwood.
“He’s got really good racecraft and he’s very good at qualifying and extracting the most out of a car.
“I’m really interested to be able to see what he does and how he sets the car up, and what he looks for as far as car set-up.
“Hopefully we can put two heads together and try and keep moving the team forward.
“Obviously coming from a different environment, working with a Triple Eight base program, hopefully I can also bring something to the table to which would be a breath of fresh air for the team.
“They’ve had the same driver line-up for a couple of years so hopefully with some of my ideas that might be able to spark something new and potentially move the team forward again as well.”
Hazelwood may receive an opportunity to cut laps in a BJR ZB Commodore during a proposed team evaluation day at Winton prior to Christmas.