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THE noise is unmistakably V8s. Engines and machine on the ragged edge, endlessly lapping the twists and turns of the three-kilometre circuit at Winton.
These are the heavyweights of the touring car series on a rare testing day, tweaking what they can to find a tenth of a second, the difference between pole and the middle of the pack.
The teams are happy this morning, the track is dry, the rain seemingly gone.
Fabian Coulthard, third in the series, and garage mate Jason Bright have been spinning their wheels since testing started at 9am.
Engineers pore over their performance that lights up on a bank of computer screens, the constantly changing figures offering feedback on both car and driver.
In an adjacent garage a fresh-faced driver jumps out of the seat.
It’s his first day on the test track with the big boys.
He is motor racing royalty.
Part of the Brad Jones Racing clan — son actually.
Macauley Jones, 19, will make his debut in the Dunlop Series, the under-card to the V8 Supercars, at Townsville next month.
The former Xavier High student has done his apprenticeship in cart racing and the open wheelers of Formula Ford.
Now he’ll take to the starting grid with cousin Andrew in another of the BJR cars but today he is lapping with the household names.
“It’s a different world,” Jones jnr said.
“In the Formula Ford you have 160 horsepower, these things have four times that and three times the weight.
“There is so much power and a lot of grip.
“At the moment I’m still letting Brighty and Fabian pass but we’ll see how we go at the end of the day.”
Jones jnr will use the remainder of the Dunlop series as on-the-job training.
“I’m jumping into a car that is very different to what I have driven in the past and about to go into a race with a full field of 28 cars on a street circuit,” he said.
“I just need to get in as many laps as I can down here. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me — I’ve spent a lot of time working on this car to get it ready for this day and I’m happy it has finally come.
“I will soak up the experience for the rest of the year and have a real crack next year.”
Bright jumps out of the Team BOC car just after 11am.
He has been on the track for more than two hours.
By his standards, this year is far from stellar, the original No. 8 car was written off in a spectacular crash in the open race of the series in Adelaide.
He sits 10th in the drivers championship, seven spots lower than teammate Coulthard.
Yesterday was the chance to iron out the bugs that have plagued their qualifying laps.
“Qualifying has been our Achilles heel and yet we have had great race pace,” Bright said
“When we do qualify well it generally ends well.
“The boys did an awesome job to put a new car together in just a week after that crash at Clipsal.
“But we probably suffered a little from having to put it together so fast and then we’ve gone from race meeting to race meeting without a day like this so hopefully today lets us understand this car a little bit better.”
LUKE Youlden is donning his driving suit and helmet, carrying his seat insert — moulded foam, wrapped in a heat shrunk black plastic.
He will partner Coulthard in the Lockwood Racing car in the endurance tests later in the year — most notably Bathurst.
Andrew Jones will partner Bright.
They will spend 80 per cent of the day watching but when they do get behind the wheel they need to switch on.
“The last time I was in the car was October so today is about jumping back into the car and getting comfortable in it, remembering where all the switches are,” Youlden said.
“After that I need to be as close to Fabian as possible, have the same feedback.”
Jones said the role of endurance race co-driver had changed dramatically in his time in the sport.
“The by-product of culling the endurance races in the rounds means we have just three test days leading into the major races,” he said.
“But both of us having been doing this for 15 years so it all seems pretty familiar.
“The greatest change in the past decade is the intensity of races like Bathurst — it really is a sprint race that goes all day.
“In the old days you would do your bit and make sure you gave the car back to the main guy and let him push as hard as he could at the end.
“But today the is onus on the co-driver to push on during the race, making positions where you can because it is all going to lead to a better finish for the main guy.”
BOC team manager Chris Clark said the testing day was just the start of the analytical process aimed at improving on last year’s third place in the team’s championship.
Real time monitoring will be supplemented by information downloaded from the car’s onboard computers, every action and reaction analysed by crew, engineers and drivers.
“This morning we are testing the brakes and ‘up-specing’ a front upright and running it for the first time ,” Clark said.
“We’ll push hard to have it right for Darwin and definitely for Townsville.
“But we are chasing around a 100th of a second and everyone else is trying to do the same thing.”
Clark said there was no reason why BJR can’t repeat or better last year’s result.
“We have been building this team for a while and we’ve put together a good bunch of guys — a group that works very, very hard and that is partly why we are where we are,” he said.
“To finish P3 last year was fantastic and I don’t see why we won’t do that or better if we do well in the endurance rounds.
“We have the potential, the drivers and the right crew.”