HE'S the leading privateer in the 2021 TCR Australian Series, but Bathurst driver Brad Shiels is hoping to be more than just that when he next gets behind the wheel.
Shiels has endured a mixed debut season in the national series so far as he's raced alongside some of Australian motor sport's big names such as Chaz Mostert, Lee Holdsworth and Garth Tander.
However, a trio of strong results at Mount Panorama - a circuit he knows well - marked a change of fortune for the Tilton Racing talent.
Shiels' relationship with Tilton Racing and founder Kosta Pohorukov began in time attack competition, but has evolved to TCR where the combination is punching above its weight lying 10th in the series.
Driving the striking blue Tilton Racing Hyundai i30N TCR, Shiels continues to improve after finishing an equal season-best seventh at the Mount and scoring a top 10 last time out at Sydney Motorsport Park.
It was at his home circuit where he enjoyed his most successful round as the reliability problems which hampered the early stages of his season were rectified.
"Pretty good so far," Shiels summarised his season thus far.
"It's probably not the results we were hoping for yet, but we had some car reliability problems and a few other things due to this being our first year for me driving, plus the team running the car.
"It's still pretty new for everyone and we're learning, but it's going pretty good."
Despite the early season maladies, Shiels is within the 10-driver battle for second in the series, which continues at Morgan Park on August 13-15.
He is eager to continue his improvement in Queensland.
"We're 10th in the series at the moment, which isn't too bad considering we had a lot of car dramas at the first two rounds when it kept on going into limp mode," he said.
"We finished last a few times, which was pretty frustrating and it occurred when I was in some pretty positions.
"Since Bathurst onwards, my results have been a bit more consistent so I'm aiming to move up the field a bit further.
"It's bloody competitive out there, you've got to drive pretty hard to even be in the top 10 so when you get a good result, you've earnt it."
Shiels lauded his team for the efforts it has made and hopes to reward them.
"Our team - as for all the other privateers - are all new to it for this season," explained Shiels.
"Most of the other teams on the grid have had a season to learn and develop to know what makes the cars work. We're still learning all this as we go."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: