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BJR to use rookie test amid struggle for speed

BRAD Jones Racing will utilise one of its rookie test days with Jaxon Evans as it looks to turn around its tough start to 2024.

The Kiwi is set for his first ‘rookie’ test day of the year on Monday, one of three that all first and second-year drivers are allocated.

It will take place at Queensland Raceway under regulations permitting teams to run a rookie test away from their regular test venue.

It follows a challenging couple of rounds for the team, which has just two top-10 finishes from its four-car fleet across the six races held so far.

Bryce Fullwood is the best of the quartet in the standings in 14th, with Andre Heimgartner (17th), Macauley Jones (20th) and Evans (22nd) also in the bottom half of the field.

The difficulties were highlighted at Albert Park, where the cars were competitive in the opening practice sessions but struggled for speed thereafter.

“It was one of the most difficult race meetings I’ve ever had,” Brad Jones said on the latest episode of the BJR Run Down Podcast, released Friday.

“The Grand Prix’s a quirky sort of place and a little unusual, so what you use there isn’t necessarily the (setup) tool you use everywhere you go. But, in saying that, we were very fast there last year and I felt this year we weren’t anywhere near that.

“We’ve struggled in qualifying on and off for the last six months, but then to not actually move forward in the race with the cars is very frustrating.

“I think that clearly when we’ve put the cars on the track, we were fast. Three cars in the top 10 in the first practice session, Andre was second fastest in the second session. We were there or thereabouts.

“Then, as the weekend went on, well, we got worse. We got worse where the others didn’t necessarily go any faster, but we didn’t go as fast.

“We’ve come away from that event and looked at a number of things. There have been a lot of meetings here at BJR – the week that we came home, I was in a meeting every afternoon trying to work through it to get some ideas about how we go forward.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s frustrating for everyone – the guys who work on the cars, the engineers, the drivers.

“It’s about getting a plan, working through it and getting on top of things, and I think that’s where we’re at. I’m happy enough with the ideas we’ve got for direction.”

Macauley Jones topped the opening session at Albert Park, explaining that the BJR Camaros have underlying pace but are “unpredictable” when it comes to extracting that speed.

“Almost every race, all four of our cars ended up in a line no matter where we had started. That’s always a bit frustrating,” Jones said.

“We all clearly have the same sort of issues, which is good; it’s not the greatest thing that we’re all slow, but it’s good that we have the same issue so we can come together and figure that out.”

Brad Jones Racing isn’t the only team to use up a rookie test day during the gap between Albert Park and Taupō.

Ryan Wood spent Thursday at Winton aboard his #2 Walkinshaw Andretti United Ford Mustang in his first rookie day of 2024.

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