Sandown 500 2004

John arrives in Australia on Sunday 5th September after almost 2 days in the air. On Monday, he is whisked off to Winton Raceway, Victoria for testing with team-mate, newly crowned Konica Minolta V8 champion and nephew to Bradley; Andrew Jones.

BJR Winton Pre-Sandown Test Review (9th September)

In preparation for the first of the V8 Supercars’ endurance races this weekend at Sandown Raceway, Brad Jones Racing conducted an impressive test session with all four drivers at Winton Raceway last Tuesday.  Details from each driver are detailed below;

Where:                  Winton Raceway

Conditions:             Cool and dry

Race Cars:             #12 OzEmail BA Falcon (black)

                            #21 OzEmail BA Falcon (white)

                            #19 Team BOC AU Falcon

 

John Bowe            70 laps #12 OzEmail Falcon.  Best time: 1:24:38

“It was easily the best test day we have had all year.  We tried a couple of new initiatives on the car with some good success.  One of them we will definitely use for Sandown and the other will put away for another day.  I came away from the day saying how much I love racing these cars, which shows how positive I thought it all went.  It was also very impressed with the way all the drivers went.” 

 

Brad Jones            20 laps #21 OzEmail Falcon, 20 laps #12 OzEmail Falcon.  Best time: 1:24:80

“We went to Winton with some developments on the front suspension and on all four shocks.  The gain we got from out suspension changes was very encouraging, so we’ll be using the new setup for Sandown.  I was very happy with the way I went.  I felt very comfortable in the car and I’m really looking forward to the weekend.” 

 

Andrew Jones       20 laps #19 Team BOC Falcon, 40 laps #21 OzEmail Falcon.  Best time: 1:25:00

“It was a good day.  We spent some time working out driving positions for John [Cleland] and myself and we’ve now got that all sorted.  Even though there’s a height difference between us, our position is great for both of us.  I did a fair few laps in the BA [Falcon] which gave me a good feel for the car.  By the end of the day, I was able to lap a quicker than I was in the AU [Falcon.”

 

John Cleland         50 laps #19 Team BOC Falcon, 20 laps #21 OzEmail Falcon.  Best time: 1:25:32

“I’d forgotten how hard these cars are to drive.  They are just brutes.  I made a point this year of coming over to do some testing before Sandown.  I wasn’t happy with my performance [at Sandown] last year mainly because it took me some time to get used to the car.  The test session was great and I got to spend most of the day driving.  I’m feeling a lot more confident going into the weekend than I did last year and I can’t wait to start racing.  The guys at BJR build very good race cars, equal to anyone else in the world.”

 

John Bowe and Brad Jones were 5th & 2nd quickest respectively in free practice with JC and Andrew Jones languishing in 20th of 35 entrants. Qualifying reflected the second free practice session with Andrew and John managing only a 27th spot on the grid. Brad and John B's qualifying session turned out to be more exciting......

 

An unfortunate mishap has ruined Brad Jones’ and John Bowe’s chances of securing a respectable starting position, when the OzEmail Falcon’s on-board fire extinguisher set itself off during a crucial stage of this afternoon’s qualifying session at the V8 Supercars’ Sandown 500 event in Melbourne.

 

The 30 minute session got underway in torrential rain but an ease in the precipitation created a dry line on the circuit towards the latter stages.  As drivers started to take advantage and lap times started to tumble, John Bowe was ready to pounce.

 

Halfway through a lap, in which the team telemetry depicted a time that would have placed Bowe well inside the top four, the on-board fire extinguisher sprayed fire retardant powder throughout the cabin, as it’s designed to do in the advent of a cockpit fire.

 

Bowe, who drives in spectacles, was temporarily blinded as his lenses were covered with the powder.  The subsequent hurried cleaning of the glasses resulted in the removal of the anti-fogging agent that was applied due to the damp conditions.  Not being able to see, last years Bathurst front row sitter found himself beached in a sand trap and unable to post a competitive lap time.  Bowe and Jones starting tomorrow’s 500 kilometre race from 21st position.

 

“I couldn’t believe it.  I was doing over 230 kph when suddenly all I could see was a cloud of white.  I managed to pull the car up before the corner and I had to take off my glasses to clean them because they were just totally covered in the powder,” said Bowe.

 

“The powder had also sprayed onto the inside of the windscreen but my biggest problem was that once I’d cleaned my glasses, they fogged up with all the dampness inside the car.  The next thing I was sitting in a foot of sand,” he added.

 

An obviously disappointed Brad Jones added – “We can’t change what happened but it’s frustrating considering how fast we were yesterday.  Let’s just hope that tomorrow is dry and we can prove how good the OzEmail Falcon is.  We’re still confident of a good result, 500 kilometres is a long way.”

 

Disappointment was also evident in the second of the OzEmail Falcon camps.  In an attempt to get into the top ten, the #21 OzEmail Falcon crew made a number of significant changes looking for improved grip.  In qualifying the car, Andrew Jones just couldn’t get the balance needed to set a decent lap time, finishing 28th.

 

“The changes we made had some effect but no where near enough.  I struggled with the car for the entire session.  I’m really disappointed with the result, our cars are normally really good in the wet,” said Andrew Jones.

 

Putting things into perspective, Scot John Cleland said – “All it means its that we have a #@%*load of cars to pass tomorrow.”

 

And so to race day:

 

Starting from 21st place on the grid, BJR duo of Brad Jones and John Bowe have stormed home finish 7th in the first of the V8 Supercar endurance races, today’s Sandown 500 in Melbourne.

 

It was a superb effort by the highly experienced driver pairing, who delivered on their strategy of staying out of trouble.  The race, flecked with multiple safety car periods, saw the two rise 14 places throughout the 500 kilometre battle.  Team owner and multiple Australian champ, Brad Jones completing a double stint to bring the OzEmail Falcon home.

 

“After the frustration of yesterday’s qualifying, our result today couldn’t have been much better for us.  It was a tough race with a heap of safety cars [periods] and it was difficult to get into a groove.  I was happy though, to do a double stint and stay competitive for the last 100 laps, was really pleasing,” said Brad Jones.

 

Jones’ effort during the middle stages of the race created the opportunity to keep him in the #12 OzEmail Falcon for the last part of the race.  A decision fully condoned by team mate John Bowe.

 

“Brad’s performance today was fantastic.  He did a great job during some of the toughest periods of the race and when we had the choice of changing drivers during one of the safety car stages, I fully supported the decision to keep Brad in the car,” said Bowe.

 

“I’m really happy with our result today.  We probably didn’t have the speed in the car to be on the podium but to be inside the top half dozen or so in these endurances races is a huge effort.  It’s credit to these great guys at BJR,” Bowe said further.

 

It was devastating day for the second OzEmail Falcon of Andrew Jones and John Cleland.  The #21 Ford only on the track for 10 laps.  A broken tail shaft which also affected the gearbox prematurely ending the day for the two top ten hopefuls.

 

“When you have such a huge build up for a race like we have had, you can’t help but be bitterly disappointed with what happened today.  We had already jumped five places when the tail shaft went, so we all thought we could be in for a good day.  It couldn’t have been further from the truth,” said a shattered Andrew Jones.

 

Coming all the way from Scotland, John Cleland didn’t even get a chance to take part in the race.  The former multiple British Touring Car Champ philosophical about the day’s proceedings – “Well, I guess it’s just part of motor racing.  It’s tough to hide any disappointment because I’ve been looking forward to this race since last year but now we have to concentrate on Bathurst.”

 

With just four weeks to go until the biggest race of the year, BJR are now in full preparations for the Bathurst 1000 on October 10th.

 

Reports courtesy of Brad Jones Racing's Dale Brittain.

 

Congratulations to Brad and John for turning a sow's ear into a silk purse and lets hope that the trip to Mount Panorama is more successful for John and Andrew in a few weeks time.

 

John is travelling home to take part in the BTCC Masters event at Donington Park on the 26th September before returning to Oz for the Great Race on the long weekend in October (9th & 10th).

Copyright : Dave Willetts 2000 - 2005