Bathurst 1000 rookies’ extra test day

Jaxon Evans

An under-the-radar rule tweak means that Supercars teams have an extra test day available to them for rookie Repco Bathurst 1000 co-drivers.

Jaxon Evans will take part in an Evaluation Day later this month (September 19) before SCT Motor Sports confirms whether or not he will partner Jack Smith in the Brad Jones Racing-run #4 entry in this year’s Great Race.

On the face of it, that appears to be a clever interpretation of the Supercars Operations Manual by SCT’s Head of Motorsport Programmes, Andrew Jones, and/or someone at BJR.

In the not too distant past, Evans would not have been allowed to drive in the Bathurst 1000 after completing an Evaluation Day that year, but that is no longer the case.

Strictly speaking, an Evaluation Day is a ‘Non-Testing Track Activity’ per Rule D1.1.5 of the Supercars Operations Manual.

Furthermore, according to Rule D1.5.1, its ‘Sole Purpose’ is the evaluation of drivers who are not currently a primary driver, not a primary driver during the previous three seasons, nor a driver who has competed in five or more Championship events in the previous season.

Supercars testing is relatively restricted, with teams ordinarily only allowed three test days per year, including that which the championship organises during pre-season, although there is a greater allocation for rookies and second-year drivers.

A single Evaluation Day is on top of that again, and while one primary driver is also allowed 10 laps in the car that day, as is the case also for rookie test days, co-drivers are prohibited from cutting laps.

That is, with limited exceptions nowadays.

As recently as 2018, the Operations Manual stated regarding Evaluation Days completed prior to the enduros, “A Driver who drives a Car at an Evaluation Day will not be permitted to be a co-Driver in any Car at any Endurance Event in the same Season,” per Rule D1.5.1.

In 2019, however, the restriction was loosened somewhat given it was elongated as such: “A Driver who drives a Car at an Evaluation Day will not be permitted to be a co-Driver in any Car at any Endurance Event in the same Season. Save for any Driver that has not competed in an Endurance Event for the previous three (3) years.”

Since then, the rule has been tweaked again to read “additional-Driver” rather than “co-Driver” but the effect is the same.

Kelly Racing, then the Nissan Motorsport factory team, fell afoul of the old rule in 2017 when it put enduro co-driver Jack Le Brocq, who had contested the long-distance events of the previous two seasons anyway, in the car in a March Evaluation Day for Bryce Fullwood.

Supercars would deem it a “[mis]interpretation of the classification of a primary driver” and allowed the team to reclassify the outing as a standard VCS Test Day, meaning Le Brocq was permitted to drive with Todd Kelly in the Pirtek Enduro Cup, but the test day was effectively lost.

In SCT’s/BJR’s case, Evans has not ever entered a Supercars Championship event and hence there is no such trouble because of the relatively new three-year provision.

Of course, one could argue that it is not unreasonable to effectively offer an extra test day to inexperienced drivers and those who may need a refresher, and that appears to be the intent of the rule from 2019 onwards.

To choose but one example, Simona De Silvestro will be eligible for the Evaluation Day and an enduro co-drive next year if the rule remains the same, because she has not been a primary driver since 2019 nor competed in any Supercars events at all since then.

Worth noting also is that Evans’ would be a somewhat late call-up to Car #4, so he would only get two test days (if one treats the Evaluation Day as such) before the Great Race anyway.

The 2022 Bathurst 1000 takes place on October 6-9, with the schedule for the event having just been released by Supercars.

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