Welcome to the final day of Race Chaser Online’s 2014 V8 Supercars Championship Preview! We open the day with a look at one of the top privateer teams in the series, Brad Jones Racing.
Brad Jones Racing (REC with Britek Motorsport)
#8 – Jason Bright, Team BOC Holden Commodore VF
#14 – Fabian Coulthard, Lockwood Racing Holden Commodore VF
#21 – Dale Wood, Advam Racing Holden Commodore VF (REC with Britek Motorsport)
2013 TEAM POINTS FINISH: 3rd
2013 HIGHLIGHT MOMENTS: Jason and Fabian sweeping all three races at Symmons Plains, and Jason winning the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy at Pukekohe
For a team that historically has some “up” and some “down” years, Brad Jones Racing’s 2013 has to be classified as an “up” year. Or, if you ask Jason Bright, a “lights-out” kind of year. Literally!
Bright won the inaugural Jason Richards Memorial Trophy in the V8 Supercars’ return to Pukekohe Park Raceway as the highest-finishing driver over the round’s four races. Jason Richards was a New Zealand-born driver in the Championship who had formerly driven for Brad Jones Racing. Richards was diagnosed with cancer in late 2010, and succumbed to the illness a year later; the organizers at Pukekohe decided to honor him by naming their “grand prize” for the round after him.
It was a fitting victory for Bright, who understood the meaning of winning the trophy bearing his former teammate’s name better than just about anyone else in the Championship. Bright was so excited to win the trophy that he jumped up and punched the light figure on the podium out when he received it!
That moment tells a lot about how Brad Jones Racing performed in 2013. It was a banner year for both of their main drivers, Jason Bright and Fabian Coulthard. Bright notched up two victories and eight podiums, but it was Coulthard that impressed the most. After struggling to find a home in the series for multiple years, Coulthard linked up with BJR in 2012. While his 2012 was respectable, he had a break-out season in 2013, collecting three victories and finishing on the podium 12 times.
His emergence was part of a “Kiwi renaissance” in the 2013 Championship, as fellow New Zealanders Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin combined with Coulthard to exceed most expectations in 2013. Both Coulthard and Bright combined to have a marvelous weekend at Symmons Plains Raceway, winning all three races and posting no finish worse than fourth between the two of them.
For 2014, there are no changes amongst the top two drivers at BJR. However, their third team (an REC owned by Britek Motorsport) saw a driver change — Dale Wood, the 2013 Dunlop Development Series champion, joined the team to take the seat of David Wall (who departed for a spot at Dick Johnson Racing). Wood’s expectations will be lower than those for Coulthard and Bright, as David Wall struggled to turn in any strong performances a season ago.
It should be noted that the last Dunlop Development Series champion to make the jump to the “main show” the year after winning the title was 2012 DDS Champion Scott McLaughlin. If McLaughlin’s performances for Garry Rogers Motorsport a season ago are any indication of how Wood can perform, than Dale might be able to surprise a lot of people in 2014.
As for Bright and Coulthard, they have the unenviable expectation of trying to repeat their feats from a season ago. The problem for both drivers is that BJR does not have the money of FPR or Red Bull Racing Australia, and thus fans should not realistically expect the team to jump into the top two positions in the team standings. They cannot realistically go any higher, but they have a lot to lose in 2014, especially with the renewed efforts of the Holden Racing Team.
Likewise, success for Brad Jones Racing will be defined by how they perform against HRT — beat them head-to-head in the points again, and it will be an accomplishment for BJR. Lose to HRT in the points, and BJR will have something to work for in 2015. They might not lead the chase for the championship, but Brad Johnson Racing should be right behind the RBRA and FPR cars in a fantastic battle with HRT for the status of the third-best team in the series.
For more information on Brad Jones Racing, visit http://www.bradjonesracing.com.au/.