Tim Slade and Ben Grice are set to test an Ashley Seward Motorsport (ASM) Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR car at Winton tomorrow.
The outing will give both drivers the chance to get some mileage under their belts after the long, coronavirus-induced break in track activity, and ASM an opportunity prepare for the delayed start of the TCR Australia season.
Slade would have just made his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and been preparing for the Intercontinental GT Challenge’s 24 Hours of Spa before the pandemic turned the world motorsport calendar on its head.
He is set to partner Shell V-Power Racing Team’s Scott McLaughlin in Supercars’ Pirtek Enduro Cup this year, although that is likely to comprise only October’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
While Slade spent over a decade as a full-timer in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, his experience in front-wheel drive machinery is much more sparse.
The two-time Supercars Championship race winner is nevertheless looking forward to driving a race car again.
“Like a lot of people, I’ve had a lot of downtime with no driving, so I can’t wait to be back in a race car,” said Slade.
“I’ve done a couple of races in Dad’s Excel at Tailem Bend and Winton last year – that was my first experience of front-wheel-drive machinery. I’d expect the TCR car to be somewhere down that path, but obviously with everything more refined.
“The goal will be to get my head around it, extract the most from it and give Ash and the guys as much feedback as I can.
“I expect it to be a different challenge, because it’s a different beast to what I’ve driven for most of my career.”
Grice, too, is more accustomed to rear-wheel-drive cars having races in Saloon Cars and the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Series, but has also raced Excels.
ASM team owner Ashley Seward explained, “We’ve obviously had a big break since our TCR cars were last on track at the Australian Grand Prix, so it’s important to get some track time ahead of the series restarting in August.
“Tomorrow’s test at Winton is a good chance to get some track time and ensure the car is running reliably, and it’s also an opportunity for drivers with the diverse experience of Tim and Ben to sample a TCR car and give us some technical feedback about its on-track behaviour.”
National Formula Ford race winner Jay Hanson will drive one ASM’s Alfas in this year’s TCR Australia Series, with the driver of the other yet to be confirmed.
The season commences at Sydney Motorsport Park’s Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships meeting on August 14-16.