‘Mechanic-less’ BRT only made two-tyre pit stops at Sydney

Tim Slade. Picture: Mark Horsburgh

Blanchard Racing Team driver Tim Slade has revealed the tyre disadvantage he’s dealing with during Supercars’ Sydney swing.

During the Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight, Slade was only able to take two tyres at each of his compulsory pit stops across the three sprint races, with a risk-management decision being made on the basis of the crew’s inexperience.

That meant only 18 of his 20 allocated tyres were used in race trim; others having changed three tyres in two races, or all four tyres in one all-in attempt.

Nevertheless, Slade brought home results of 10th, fifth and ninth, capitalising on tyre life – much like he did to good effect at Townsville – by stopping late in the Saturday night race and earliest of all in the two Sunday outings.

“I was pretty happy with the weekend as a whole, all things considered,” Slade told Speedcafe.com.

“We were very average Friday and I was just happy that we made progress every single session. Mirko [De Rosa, engineer] and the boys did a really good job with the car.

“Any time you’re [qualifying] in the 10 is good, but it’s still hard work from there to fight for a podium so the best way forward for us was just to back ourselves with the tyre life and strategy, just trying to get as much clear air as possible. The race car was really good in all races.

“We’re just lacking, I guess we have been all year, the staff.”

Among the knock-on effects of the staff shortage is their crew’s work in pit lane.

“You’re up against guys that are training [all the time] and we have basically just tried to do the best with what we’ve got, and that kind of meant just doing two tyres in each race, I guess just to limit the time loss in the pits. We did two in each,” Slade added.

“I think a result definitely could have been better, had we been able to do four, but it is what it is, that’s just where we’re at, at the moment.

“We’ll just get the most out of what we’ve got in the current situation.”

Slade is now up to 13th in the championship. Picture: Mark Horsburgh

The team’s lack of a mechanic on-site – their regular lead mechanic having been unable to travel down from Queensland for weeks on end – has left them scrambling with no resolution in sight for the coming events.

“He’s got a full-time job [in Queensland] so he can’t afford to come away down here for five weeks,” said Slade.

“So we’re basically mechanic-less, so everyone is chipping in. Jayden [Marciano], who is a data engineer by trade, has actually taken on the #1 role.

“It’s all hands on deck.

“Saturday night was quite funny, literally every single person was working on the car in some way, shape or form, including Tim and John [Blanchard]. Tim’s Mum and stepdad, they were there wiping it down.

“It’s cool though, I like that.”

Slade’s trio of top 10 finishes lifted him to 13th in the championship, with a maximum of 1230 points still to play for across the final four events.

“It’s going to be hard with the Erebus cars being so fast,” he said, himself having jagged nine top 10 results from the past 12 races.

“I think they’re ninth and 10th [Will Brown and Brodie Kostecki, respectively], so they’re going to be hard to chase down.

“But it just shows what a good job everyone in the team has done. I think we’re genuinely a top 10 team. I know everyone has their woulda, coulda, shoulda, but if you take out what happened at Bathurst, then we’d be firmly in the back half of the top 10 there.

“We’ll just go about our business and try to keep getting the best results possible race-on-race and hopefully after Bathurst we can just sneak into the 10.”

The second of four Sydney Motorsport Park events, the Armor All Sydney SuperNight, will take place this Saturday and Sunday.

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