Slade weighing up options for 2021 amid coronavirus chaos

Tim Slade (left) and Nick Percat

Tim Slade says he’s weighing up international and domestic racing opportunities for 2021, including a possible return to Supercars.

Up until this year, Slade had been a full-time fixture in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship since 2009.

After a four-year stint with Brad Jones Racing, the 35-year-old was unable to secure a seat this season.

Slade had been set for an international GT campaign this year with HubAuto Corsa, who he began racing for in 2018.

That campaign included a 24 Hours of Le Mans debut, which was ultimately scuppered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He also had domestic racing plans in the pipeline, though those were also stifled due to coronavirus related restrictions throughout Australia.

As it stands, Slade’s sole remaining drive in 2020 is with the Shell V-Power Racing Team alongside Scott McLaughlin in this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

Asked by whether a return to full-time Supercars competition was on his radar, Slade said, “You’re always talking to people. It’s ongoing. We’ll see what pans out.”

“I was doing exactly what I wanted to do this year with the plan that I had as far as a full, normal, enduro campaign and all the overseas stuff,” Slade added.

“It was looking like I was going to have some stuff here (in Australia) in other categories.

“I was really looking forward to all of that, but I never said that I was never going to come back to Supercars.

“I know that it’s definitely hard to get back in, so I wasn’t hung up on trying to get back in.

“If the opportunity is there and it’s something that’s attractive to me and I think it’s going to work well for me and I’m going to enjoy it, then yeah, for sure, it’s something that I’ll look into. ”

Slade said the extended break between the end of this year’s Supercars season will be beneficial in figuring out his plans.

However, he believes arranging any campaigns for next season, domestic or international, will largely be determined by the state of COVID-19.

“I think there’ll definitely be a bigger gap between the end of one year and the start of the next,” Slade explained.

“I guess it’s probably good in a way that it gives people more of an opportunity to sort things out with drivers, commercially, and whatever else.

“You’ve just got to work out what’s viable in the current climate,” Slade added.

“When you’re kind of based here in Australia, you’ve kind of got to look here at the moment when the future is so unknown with everything that’s going on.”

Slade said he’s also awaiting the release of next year’s calendar to see how many races will make up the Pirtek Enduro Cup.

That, he said, will be important in deciding the financial viability of a drive in 2021.

“I don’t know what Supercars’ plans are for enduros,” said Slade.

“I don’t know if they’re going to go back to two or three races and whether you’re going to be able to do as much racing there or whether it’s going to be the same financially or whether the overseas stuff is going to be viable or not.

“It’s not really viable if you’ve got to quarantine every time you come home when the races are so spread out during the year.

“I guess, for me, the smart thing to do is to weigh up all my options and not just put all my eggs into one basket when it’s all an unknown at this stage.”

Despite what has been a rocky 2020, Slade said he’s been well-rested and is optimistic about the future despite ongoing uncertainty.

Slade ended his last season in Supercars with a podium finish on the streets of Newcastle, capping off 11 straight seasons in the championship.

“I’ve got a well-needed reset, refresh with this break,” said Slade.

“It’s weird, even though I was full-time for 11 years, I guess you never stop learning and I felt as though I even learned a lot in the last 12 to 18 months where I ended up.

“I felt as though I was driving as good as I ever have. I guess that’s what still keeps you motivated to keep on going.”

This year’s season-ending Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is set to take place on October 15-18.

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