After terrifying crash, fearless duo on track to reunite
BRAD Jones Racing Team regular Tim Slade is keen to continue his driving partnership with Ipswich ace Ash Walsh this season.
The fearless pair have endured some challenging times together as co-drivers, including tackling the famous Mount Panorama at Bathurst.
However, Walsh hasn't raced in the shorter Supercars events this year after being involved in a terrifying high-speed crash at Phillip Island last September.
Walsh, 28, was unable to contest last year's Bathurst with Slade in the Freightliner Racing team due to the injuries he sustained.
However, the talented drivers are set to reunite.
"Ash and I are together again this year,'' Slade said, looking ahead to the endurance races at the Gold Coast, Sandown and Bathurst later in the Supercars season.
"We did a 12 hour this year and unfortunately he was in that big crash at the end there as well,'' Slade said.
"It was unfortunate the way it all panned out last year with his injuries from the crash.
"I'm definitely looking forward to teaming back up with Ash.''
Dealing with the inevitable and dangerous challenges elite drivers face, Slade backed the former Ipswich Grammar School student.
"Ash and I have known each other since go-karts,'' Slade, 32, said.
"Now he's super fast and he's done a really good job for us so far.
"Hopefully we can have some good car speed coming into enduros, and Ash and I can get some solid results.''
As for his own progress this season, Slade has dealt with some mixed results sitting 11th in the championship.
He's preparing for this weekend's Supercars round at Queensland Raceway excited about returning to the Ipswich "Paperclip'' circuit.
In last year's Ipswich round, Slade saw a podium spot flash before his eyes when a fast-finishing Shane van Gisbergen moved ahead of him late in the race.
"The cars have been relatively good at Queensland Raceway the last couple of years so fingers crossed they are handy again this year,'' Slade said. "We haven't quite had the ultimate pace but we weren't far off actually qualifying last year (in fourth).
"It was disappointing to have a podium taken away right at the end there.''
That came after two seconds and a third in the 2011 series at Queensland Raceway. Slade also recorded eight top 10 finishes last year, including third placings on the Gold Coast and Newcastle street circuits.
Racing in the Supercars series for 10 years, Slade rated this year's progress as "mediocre''.
"We have strung a few good weekends there as far as speed is concerned,'' he said.
"At Winton (in May), we were not too bad and then the last couple have been a bit disappointing.''
Slade was optimistic the team could feature prominently in the second half of the season.
"I have confidence that we'll be better this weekend than what we were in Townsville (the previous round) and in Darwin (last month),'' Slade said. "But there are a few little differences this year with us being in a different car.
"We don't test at Queensland Raceway so we're not exactly sure what difference that's going to make.
"What we've found from other tracks so far this year, it's not a massive difference.
"We just want to get more outright speed from the car and then have that speed consistent from track to track. That's sort of a big goal for us.''
While focused on finishing this year on a high, Slade conceded drivers outside the top 10 faced extra challenges.
"The championship is super competitive and it can be a bit of a grind sometimes because you are constantly stressing out about 100s of a second,'' Slade said.
"The motivation isn't a hard thing because it's what you love doing and we are all fortunate enough to be able to do what we love doing as a career and as a job.''
He said being part of the Brad Jones Racing Team maintained his hunger to succeed.
"Forgetting about the results, it's the happiest I've ever been,'' he said. "And I struggle to see how I could be any happier just as far as my relationship with (team co-owners) Brad and Kim and just everyone in the team. It's cool to be a part of.''
Slade also enjoyed being part of last Saturday's Coates Hire Community Day at Orion Shopping Centre.
"It's a good turnout,'' he said happy to mingle with fans.
"The Ipswich race always has a pretty good turnout and people up this way are pretty passionate about it.''
Away from racing, Slade soaks up the extra work.
"I enjoy my fitness training and up here on the Gold Coast is a pretty good spot for it because of the weather and it's a beautiful place,'' he said.
"I do a lot of riding and running and gym stuff.
"It's not a chore for me. I enjoy doing it.''
Tickets for this weekend's Ipswich SuperSprint series are available at ticketek.com.au