COOLDRIVE COMEBACK: SLADE’S CRASHED MUSTANG RETURNS

Tim Slade's Mustang has been repaired after its Bathurst crash. Pics: Supplied

THE CoolDrive Ford Mustang that Tim Slade qualified on the front-row and then crashed out of the 2021 Supercars season opener at Bathurst has returned to the racetrack.

Slade was forced into the team’s spare car after his heavy hit at Forrest’s Elbow, but the Blanchard Racing Team has now repaired the primary chassis ahead of the resumption of racing at the end of October.

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The car’s track return came at Winton on Tuesday with Blanchard’s long-time friend Taz Douglas at the wheel, as the 2014 Bathurst 1000 podium finisher eyes a potential Super2 campaign with the team next year.

A dramatic start to 2021 is just the latest chapter in the history of a Supercar chassis with an interesting and colourful story.

First built as a Ford Falcon FG X in 2016 by Tickford Racing (then named Prodrive Racing Australia) the car is codenamed PRA 1520.

Winterbottom at the 2016 Sydney 500. Pic: Supplied

Donning the Bottle-O green, reigning champion Mark Winterbottom debuted the car at the Hidden Valley in June and raced it for the remainder of the season.

That included running a one-off black livery at Bathurst to mark 10 years of the sponsor’s Supercars involvement.

In 2017 PRA 1520 was predominately black once more, moved to the Monster Energy garage for Cameron Waters, who teamed with Richie Stanaway to win that September’s Sandown 500.

Waters celebrates victory at the 2017 Sandown 500. Pic: Supplied

Ahead of 2018, the car was sold to Phil Munday, underpinning the panel beating magnate’s new 23Red Racing outfit, and taking on the red and white hues of major sponsor Milwaukee Tools.

Like the Blanchard Racing Team, 23Red was initially established as a standalone outfit with a customer alliance to Tickford.

Will Davison drove PRA 1520 throughout 2018 with moderate success before 23Red was brought in house at Tickford for ’19, ahead of which the chassis was reskinned as a Mustang.

Although falling short of a win, Davison scored two podium finishes with the car in 2019, including at Ipswich where he broke his own 1,021-day podium drought.

PRA 1520 topped 2020’s pre-season test. Pic: Supplied

PRA 1520 was again wheeled out for Davison at the start of 2020, topping the pre-season test at The Bend and qualifying in the top four during each session held across Adelaide and Albert Park.

When 23Red Racing folded during the COVID-19 shutdown, PRA 1520 was taken over by James Courtney and returned for the following round in Sydney in Boost Mobile colours.

Courtney added to the car’s podium tally with a second in the opening race of August’s Darwin Triple Crown and finished in the top 10 at Bathurst alongside co-driver Broc Feeney.

Courtney took over the car from Davison. Pic: Supplied

The car and a spare chassis, FPR 1215, were leased by Munday to the new BRT outfit ahead of 2021, both dressed in stunning CoolDrive blue.

Slade impressed with a front-row qualifying effort aboard PRA 1520 for BRT’s first race at the Repco Mount Panorama 500 in February, only to crash out while running fourth late in the going.

Missing the Sunday race and switching back to the spare car put an early dent in the team’s season and Slade sits 17th in the championship after seven events, with six top 10 race finishes from his last nine starts.