Supercars mid-season report card: Brad Jones Racing

Nick Percat has been head and shoulders above his Brad Jones Racing team-mates

With the Repco Supercars Championship on a coronavirus-induced halt at the season’s midway mark, takes a look at the 2021 performance of Brad Jones Racing to date.

Teams’ championship: 7th (and 10th for its second garage)

Drivers’ championship: Nick Percat 8th, Todd Hazelwood 14th, Jack Smith 21st, Macauley Jones 24th

Qualifying head-to-head: Percat 11, Hazelwood 5, Smith 2, Jones 1

Race head-to-head: Percat 12, Hazelwood 7, Smith 0, Jones 0

Brad Jones Racing was something of a revelation in 2020.

Despite everything that the COVID-19 pandemic threw at them, lead drivers Nick Percat and Todd Hazelwood showed resolve to bring BJR its best results in the ZB era.

Percat was the team’s leading light last year, a hot streak – including two wins at Sydney Motorsport Park – putting him in contention for a top five finish in the drivers’ championship.

Pole positions for him and Hazelwood on the streets of Townsville were standout showings, and evidence that on their day the team had one-lap pace.

This year, Brad Jones Racing has been a mixed bag.

After 2020, there was a feeling that the Albury-based outfit would build upon its success in 2021. So far, the team has just one podium finish to show at the season’s midway mark.

Percat has been the anchor, consistently vying for top 10 finishes and the occasional podium here and there.

He holds down eighth at the midway mark, one place lower than where he ended 2020.

There’s no doubt the Gold Coast-based Adelaide-born driver is one of the category’s top talents, though he’s not been rewarded for his ability.

Percat’s season has been a case of not great, not terrible. Perhaps his sudden decision to depart the team is part of a desire to realise his full potential.

Perennial fan favourite Hazelwood has had by all accounts a fairly lacklustre year to date.

A breakthrough podium at SMP and his first pole position at the Reid Park Street Circuit in Townsville were the highlights of 2020, but in 2021 he’s been consistently in the midpack.

This year’s double-header in Townsville marked a turn of form for Hazelwood, who if not for a power steering failure almost certainly would have had five successive top five finishes.

Amid contract talks, finishes of fifth and fourth were timely and a reminder that when everything goes right he’s certainly more than capable.

However, two weekends don’t make a season, and on the whole, Hazelwood has been a disappointing 14th in the standings relative to Percat in seventh.

Then there’s Jack Smith and Macauley Jones.

Jones had the measure of Smith in 2020, though the tables have turned in 2021.

On two occasions Smith has been the team’s best qualifier. Smith would qualify 13th and 14th for Race 6 and Race 7 only to be part of the team’s worst effort this season in Race 8 where the quartet lined up 20th (Percat), 21st (Hazelwood), 23rd (Smith), and 24th (Jones).

At the midway mark, Jones remains pegged to the bottom of the standings in 24th.

Ironically, it was the most recent round in Townsville where he looked the strongest all season, only to suffer three straight DNFs for various reasons.

Qualifying has been solid, but the 26-year-old has a propensity to lose positions on the opening lap. Only twice this year has he finished higher than where he started. He needs to get his elbows out.

Team mid-season grade: 5.5/10

Driver mid-season grades: Percat 7/10, Hazelwood 5.5/10, Smith 4/10, Jones 3/10

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