ONE of the best amateur drivers in Australia - that is the praise Supercars star Tim Slade has bestowed on Brad Schumacher ahead of their bid for glory at the Bathurst International.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
It's why Slade thinks the Bathurst driver can help him claim a chequered flag in the series finale of the GT World Challenge Australia series come Sunday afternoon at Mount Panorama.
They'll share the seat of Schumacher's recently upgraded Audi in the three-hour enduro and do battle with the likes of two Triple Eight Race Engineering entries.
"It's good that Brad has done the upgrade to the car which obviously allows us to compete in the outright class together, something we weren't able to do previously with the car the way it was and with him running in the trophy class," Slade said.
"I feel as though it's been a long time coming being able to drive together, which will be cool.
"All the ingredients are there pretty much, it's just down to us to execute as drivers and as a team as a whole. So it's exciting, we'll do our best and see where that puts us because there's going to be some pretty good competition there.
"The biggest thing we have over them is Brad. If he's not the best, he is one of the best amateurs in Australia. Hopefully we can use that to good effect."
Schumacher first stepped up to the national level series last season and proved his class by taking the overall honours in the trophy class.
It was a victory built around Schumacher's skill, the support of his all-Bathurst crew, his work ethic, his drive to succeed and willingness to learn from Slade.
The duo met through a mutual friend who mentioned to Slade that Schumacher was interested in receiving some driver coaching.
What has unfolded has not only been a successful mentoring partnership and mutual respect, but a friendship as well.
"It is something I enjoy doing, especially with Brad because he's very teachable and he's actually a very, very good amateur driver, definitely one of the best in Australia," Slade said.
"It can be quite frustrating and not as enjoyable when you're working with someone and you tell them all day long to do whatever to go faster and they're not capable of doing it, whereas Brad, if I look at data or onboard footage from the car, I can see what he's doing and where he can improve and what he can work on and nine times out of 10 he can do it.
"It's enjoyable working with Brad. We've actually struck up a friendship, that's pretty cool."
Schumacher heads to Bathurst in a position to not only contest for his first outright win in the GT World Challenge Australia, but win the series' endurance championship.
He is in with a shot at that honour after his efforts at the Bathurst 12 Hour for the factory Audi team.
Schumacher is ranked second behind Prince Jefri Ibrahim, who will share his seat at the Bathurst International with Triple Eight young gun Broc Feeney.
"It was really cool seeing him at the 12 Hour this year with the top Audi team and against basically all the other best amateurs in Australia," Slade said.
"I think he came out on top pretty much in that, so that was pretty cool to see."
Just as Schumacher is hungry for another national honour, Slade is just as keen to try to add a win at the inaugural Bathurst International to his resume.
Slade already has six top 10 results in the Bathurst 1000, a fourth in the Bathurst 6 Hour and a second in Bathurst 12 Hour to his credit.
"I love Bathurst and I think you really can't do enough laps around that place," he said.
"Outside of the 1000, any events there I enjoy even more since I struck up a friendship with Brad because I normally stay with him and he lives close to the mountain. It just makes the event more enjoyable.
"I love driving the GT cars and everyone loves Bathurst and they are really awesome around there, so I can't wait.
"I think that the Audis are more than capable of being fast there at the mountain and Brad has got a good little crew that he has put together and had together for the last couple of years."
Slade is delighted that the upgraded Audi will give Schumacher a chance to really show what he can do.
He acknowledged the work the Bathurst driver has done away from the track to be in a position to challenge for outright honours too.
"It's just good for him. With this car the way it was and running in trophy class with only a few other cars and the other drivers were nowhere near him ... it was like he was going out there and running around by himself and he couldn't really compare himself to the other amateurs like a Liam Talbot or Yasser Shahin because he's in a different spec of car," he said.
"At least now he has got the same as them and he can truly compare himself to the top amateurs.
"I do have a lot of respect for Brad being a young guy and achieving what he is achieving with the work side of things is pretty cool to see. It's a credit to him to be able to be in this position to be able to enjoy his motor racing."
Schumacher and Slade will hit the Mount Panorama circuit for the first time at 2.05pm on Friday afternoon for practice, with the three-hour enduro to start at 10.40am Sunday.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.