BRAD Jones wants a car in the top three of the new V8 Supercar series.
He yesterday said the Albury-based team had already proven it had the speed, the drivers and the drive to take the next step up the ladder.
Brad Jones Racing will again run three cars in a series that starts on Saturday.
Jason Bright will return to the wheel of the Team BOC #8 car, Fabian Coulthard again in the Lockwood Racing #14 V8, while Dunlop Series winner Dale Wood will be at the helm of the #21 car after David Wall’s departure to Dick Johnson Racing.
Last year, the first on the new platform known as the Cars of the Future, Bright and Coulthard finished 6th and 7th in the championship.
They were again well inside the top 10 at a testing day in Sydney a few days ago.
Jones said it was time their outfit challenged Red Bull Racing and Ford Performance Racing for the title — and that they had a car in the top three.
“Last year was a great year with drivers 6th and 7th in the championship but we believe we can have a car in the top three and that’s the goal,” he said.
“We are at different stages with the different cars — the #8 and #14 cars are our clear front-runners.
“But Dale Wood, who’s coming out of the Dunlop series as the reigning champion, showed in the #21 car that he, too, will be competitive after being 10th fastest at the season launch in Sydney.”
Jones said the change to the Cars of the Future had pushed the competition’s reset button.
“For us, it was an opportunity to have all new stuff in the car and be similar to Ford Performance Racing and Triple 8 (Red Bull Racing) who were the yardstick,” he said.
“Last year we did that but the trick now is to go with them — maintain our pace, get a little stronger.
“Every team will have learned from last year — all will be that little bit quicker again this year.”
The V8 Supercar series begins with the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide — the BJR B-doubles with their cars and equipment rolling out of East Albury early yesterday.
The Adelaide street circuit hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the team in recent years but Jones hopes a change in format and a strong end to the year in Sydney might turn that around.
He said it was vital they come away with two cars in the top-10.
“It’s a tough circuit that takes its toll on the cars and drivers,” Jones said.
“Last year we were really fast but came away from there with both the #14 and #21 car out of the top-20 through little problems and accidents.
“But we have done a lot work and we showed with a podium finish at Homebush (another narrow street circuit) at the end of last year that we were in a good position to start the season on a positive note.
“Ideally, we will come away from Clipsal with strong results, not too much damage to the cars and in a position where we can race Triple 8 and FPR for the championship.
“If you come away from there with one or two bad races — 15th to 25th — then you are playing catch-up and you need to be more aggressive, take a few more risks and that can be the end of your year.”
Jones said the past few months had been spent tweaking the cars, getting ready for the season ahead.
“We are as well prepared as we can be,” he said.
“To tell you the truth, I can’t wait to get to Adelaide and get racing.”
This year the Clipsal 500 features a new format with two 125-kilometre races on Saturday and a traditional 250-kilometre race on Sunday.