Brad Jones Racing has finally confirmed the widely-expected news that Tim Slade will join its ranks for the 2016 V8 Supercars Championship season.
The South Australian driver will replace Fabian Coulthard – who heads to an expanded two-car DJR Team Penske outfit next season – and race BJR’s #14 Freightliner Racing Holden Commodore.
Slade, the most experienced driver in the V8 Supercars Championship who is still without a race win, moves across from Walkinshaw Racing, with whom he has endured two troubled seasons in its SuperCheap Auto Racing Holden.
Team owner Brad Jones believes that Slade’s full potential is yet to be realised in the V8 Supercars Championship, arguing that the turnaround Coulthard (also a former Walkinshaw Racing driver) enjoyed after joining BJR will be repeated.
“I am really excited as we feel Tim has untapped potential; which BJR have a history of uncorking with drivers,” Jones said.
“Talking to people who have worked with Tim say he has a great feel for the car set up. His good understanding of the vehicle and knowledge is something we are definitely looking forward to working with.
“Tim is going to be a great addition to the team, he has all the attributes that we look for in a driver in terms of speed and commitment.”
Slade is hoping that a return to a family-run team will help return him to similar levels of success he enjoyed while racing for the likes of Stone Brothers Racing. He finished fifth overall in the 2012 V8 Supercars Championship standings driving for Ross and Jimmy Stone’s team.
“I’m looking forward to being back in that family team environment again … The Freightliner Racing team will suit me, having experience with a family team background; working with the guys from SBR,” Slade added.
“The team have been one of the benchmark teams since the introduction of the Car of the Future and have had some really strong race results, which I want to continue for them in 2016.”
Slade’s movement to BJR has been something of an open secret for a number of months after the contracts between the driver and team were signed immediately after October’s Bathurst 1000.
The deal was, however, contingent on whether Walkinshaw Racing would remain as a four-car outfit beyond the end of 2015. For the past two seasons it has run Slade’s entry and the Charlie Schwerkolt Racing satellite cars alongside its two factory-backed Holden Racing Team cars, but has recently confirmed it would scale back to just its two HRT cars.
REC holder Charlie Schwerkolt confirmed he would split from Walkinshaw and run his own team next year, while Walkinshaw opted to sell its #47 REC (which Slade currently pilots) to Super Black Racing, which was left without an REC for 2016 after the one it currently runs (leased from DJR Team Penske) is reabsorbed by its owner ahead of its expansion.
His appointment now means there are just four seats on next year’s 26-car grid to be officially filled. That includes BJR’s #21 Commodore, which is currently piloted by Dale Wood, who confirmed his move to Nissan Motorsport next season.
Other off-contract seats at Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport (#3), Rod Nash Racing (#55) and Super Black Racing (#111) are expected to be claimed by Tim Blanchard, Cameron Waters and Chris Pither respectively.
|2016 V8 Supercars Championship – Provisional Driver Line-ups|
|#||Team / Entry||Driver||Notes|
|2.||Red Bull Racing Australia||Garth Tander|
|3.||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Tim Blanchard^|
|4.||Erebus Motorsport V8||Ashley Walsh|
|5.||Prodrive Racing Australia||Mark Winterbottom|
|6.||Prodrive Racing Australia||Chaz Mostert|
|7.||Nissan Motorsport||Todd Kelly|
|8.||Brad Jones Racing||Jason Bright|
|9.||Erebus Motorsport V8||David Reynolds||Moving from Rod Nash Racing|
|12.||DJR Team Penske||Fabian Coulthard||Moving from Brad Jones Racing|
|14.||Brad Jones Racing||Tim Slade||Moving from Walkinshaw Racing|
|15.||Nissan Motorsport||Rick Kelly|
|17.||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye|
|18.||Charlie Schwerkolt Racing||Lee Holdsworth|
|21.||Brad Jones Racing||TBA|
|22.||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney|
|23.||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso|
|33.||Volvo Polestar Racing||Scott McLaughlin|
|34.||Volvo Polestar Racing||James Moffat||Moving from Nissan Motorsport|
|55.||Rod Nash Racing||Cameron Waters*||Promoted from Dunlop Series|
|88.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Jamie Whincup|
|97.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Shane van Gisbergen||Moving from TEKNO Autosports|
|99.||Nissan Motorsport||Dale Wood||Moving from Brad Jones Racing|
|111.||Super Black Racing||Chris Pither^|
|222.||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Nick Percat|
|888.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Craig Lowndes|
|TBA.||TEKNO Autosports||Will Davison||Moving from Erebus Motorsport|
* Deal yet to be officially confirmed
^ Unconfirmed, but considered the favourite for the seat
Images via Freightliner Racing and Motorsport.com