JONES STARTS TESTING NEW FRONT-DRIVE AUDI WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10: Reigning BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Champion Brad Jones today had a boost to his confidence for retaining the title this year with a satisfactory first test in his new ...
JONES STARTS TESTING NEW FRONT-DRIVE AUDI
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10: Reigning BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Champion Brad Jones today had a boost to his confidence for retaining the title this year with a satisfactory first test in his new front-drive works Audi A4 at Calder Park Raceway in Melbourne.
The 38-year-old from Albury and his Melbourne-based Audi Sport Australia team-mate Matthew Coleman completed a two-hour test around the 2km Calder Park circuit in the cars raced by Frenchman Yvan Muller and England's John Bintcliffe in the 1998 British Touring Car Championship.
Jones, who won two championship titles while racing four-wheel-drive Audi quattros for the past four years, said the results of the test had left him confident the new cars would be competitive in this year's eight-round series, which starts at Lakeside Raceway in Queensland on April 18. The front-drive Audis race at 975kg, compared to the 1,070kg weight for the quattros in the 1998 championship.
"Our new Audis only arrived from Britain last week so we wanted to get on the track and do a thorough systems check," said Jones. "The instant reaction to the front-drive car is it's quicker down the straights because it's lighter, but it doesn't get the power down as well as the quattro exiting the corners."
"The cornering characteristics are the main difference between the cars, which we expected. It's still early days and there's a lot of work to do, but I'm sure we will have a competitive package with the front-drive car once we do more testing and make some changes and improvements."
During the test Jones evaluated Yokohama control tyres, which have been introduced to the championship this year. Yokohama Tyre Australia technician Keith McCormack attended the test at Calder Park.
"I did a qualifying run over four laps and the tyres stayed consistent, but we need to do more testing to see how they stand up over a race distance," said Jones. "Like everyone, we need to build up some data with the Yokohamas and do plenty of 'test miles' to get the best possible result with tyre wear."
Jones said his Albury-based team would test at the Eastern Creek and Oran Park circuits in Sydney, and at Winton in Victoria, during the five-week lead-up period to the championship opener.
Coleman, who is starting his first year of Super Touring racing after driving in the Commodore Cup in 1998, said he felt comfortable in the front-drive Audi during his stint at Calder Park, which followed an initial test with the team in a quattro at the same venue during February.
"I drove about seven laps in the new car and it was good, although the torque felt unusual compared to the quattro coming out of the corners," said Coleman. "This is the first year I've driven a car with a sequential gearbox, but that doesn't seem to be a problem. In fact, it feels good. This pre-season testing is very important to me because I'm still new to these types of cars."
VOLVO PRE-SEASON UPDATE:
The works Volvo Dealer Racing Australia team is expected to begin testing at Lakeside Raceway toward the end of the month in the S40 driven by Jim Richards in the 1998 championship. Team manager George Shepheard said the 1997-specification car had been rebuilt and he was now waiting on the arrival of engines from Great Britain. The car will be driven in this year's championship by Richards' new team-mate, Mark Williamson, of NSW. Volvo is campaigning a two-car team in the championship for the first time in 1999.
Richards will drive a 1998-specification Volvo S40 in this year's championship. Shepheard said Richards' car had been rebuilt in Britain, after being used for works testing overseas, and was expected to arrive in Australia in the first week of April. "The new car for Jim will come ready to race," said Shepheard.
From: Mike Porter <firstname.lastname@example.org>