WHILE the debate still rages over the move that cost the Brad Jones Racing team a podium finish at Bathurst the team itself has moved on — literally.
Such is the demands of the $135 million V8 Supercar “circus” that there is no time to rest, no time for self pity.
Less than 24 hours after Mount Panorama the team — 70 staff, two B-doubles and three racing cars were back on the Border.
With almost military precision they moved to the next operation — the Gold Coast as a high profile under-card to the IndyCars on the streets of Surfers Paradise.
In the unassuming workshop, at least from the outside, of an industrial court in East Albury the Bathurst post mortem had begun.
The three cars, the ill-fated Team BOC, Lockwood Racing and Wilson Security were on hoists, their mechanics dismantling the shell of the “cars of the future”.
Oil is being drained, air vents systematically examined, panels removed.
In another room, that looks more like an operating theatre than workshop, the differential and gear box is being dismantled.
It looks remarkably like a scene from CSI — an auto-topsy — each part cleaned, dissected and examined with the care and consideration of a coroner.
Elsewhere tyres are being scraped — each set from Bathurst race day will have its rubber measured in three places, some will go to the Gold Coast for practice sessions, others wrapped in black plastic and stored on a five-metre high wall.
The forensic nature of the operation is not for show.
Each piece of information is recorded and analysed by the team of engineers that sit up stairs.
Their job is to turn Bathurst’s evidence into a performance tweak of the beasts that already race on the ragged edge.
They have three days.
By last Friday the first of the trucks were on their way to the Gold Coast.
On Saturday the cars, whole once more, began their 1400-kilometre journey to the next round.
Co-owner Kim Jones said changes to the format of the two enduro races at Indy would play to their strengths.
This year teams are not burdened by the demands of carrying an international driver, instead the Brad Jones Racing team will use the same driving teams that were so competitive at Bathurst.
“Every race counts — we are back to fifth and sixth in the driver’s championship, third in the teams,” Jones said.
“There are two races with additional points and our focus is on getting a result.
“We have a better opportunity at the Gold Coast this year than in the past with the regular drivers — the guys who have done all the testing, raced at Sandown and Bathurst — are coming to race at the Indy meet.
“In the past we have had to use off-shore drivers.
“These people are new to the team, they have one test day and it is very difficult for anyone to be competitive in those circumstances.
“So this is one of our best shots.
“We have a real chance at a podium but we thought the same at Bathurst.”
BJR looked certain to finish in the top-three at Mount Panorama — Jason Bright fending off first Craig Lowndes then Garth Tander in a desperate battle for top-3.
But with just four laps to go Tander, a three-time Bathurst winner, got desperate.
He and Bright ended up off the track.
Lowndes took third, with BJR finishing fifth and left with a bitter taste in its mouth.
Jones said he felt for drivers and a team that does more than simply turn out for a select group of races each year.
For these industrial units that are within spitting distance of the freeway are far from just a shelter and repair shop for the team.
It is here that these cars are born.
In yet another unit machinists are turning metal alloy lumps into working parts of a race car.
The fourth “car of the future” sits on blocks.
It is a metal skeleton, welded into form on the floor.
These cars race as Holdens but are almost unrecognisable from the family sedan — the rear seat triangle window the only unmodified part.
Panels are pop riveted onto the frame and wrapped, rather than painted, in the team livery.
Painting is avoided at all costs — it adds unnecessary weight and drag to the car’s performance.
Still the team includes two spray painters and a graphic designer.
There is little that can’t be done here.
“The team will work until 11pm each night to get the cars on the truck to the Gold Coast,” Jones said.
“But that is the nature of the game.
“The rear end of the season is full on but these guys love their motor sports — that is what helps them get through the tough times.
“Basically we finished at 4.30pm on Sunday at Bathurst packed up the trucks and were on the road at 6am Monday.
“Tuesday morning they are here at 7.30am and will work through to 11pm to pull the cars apart.
“They will start putting the cars back together Wednesday, do set-up Thursday and into the truck Friday and off to the Gold Coast on Saturday.
“At the end of Indy we do it all again and have three weeks to get ready for Phillip Island.”
But it is not just the cars that are battered and bruised after Bathurst.
“Jason Bright did 60 laps in his last stint so he would be hurting pretty bad at the moment,” Jones said.
“Sports scientists say an hour in the car at Bathurst is like a half marathon, so Brighty did about 2½ marathons by that measure.
“Andrew Jones, his BOC car co-driver, doesn’t do a lot of these long races in the car and he had skin off and blisters on his hands, bruises from getting in and out of the car in 15 seconds at the pit stops.
“So these guys are a pretty sorry sights at the end of it all.
“But they are back up here mid-week for debrief, then do some work with our commercial partners and go to the Gold Coast by Wednesday.”
Jones said the image was that it was party time but the Gold Coast was just another stop for the circus.
“The Gold Coast is a very different race,” he said.
“From the outside it looks like a great place to visit but if the wind is blowing off the sea it is a nightmare — at the end of the day it feels like you have spent 24 hours in a blast furnace.
“It’s a street circuit that makes getting in and out pretty tough — we just travel from the motel to the track and back and then home. We are just there to win a car race.”