OzEmail Racing's bid to win the Sandown 500 will now take on a darker shade with the decision today for the fancied pairing of Brad Jones and John Bowe to campaign the team's black OzEmail Falcon.

It was expected that the Jones/Bowe combination would line up in the white #21 Falcon, as was done in 2002 but a rigorous test session last Tuesday has seen the team make the last minute decision to swap cars. The black OzEmail Ford will carry Jones' normal car number - 21.

"After Tuesday, it was obvious that the black OzEmail Falcon was better suited to both John [Bowe] and I," said team principal, Brad Jones. "Collectively, we were able to consistently set faster times in the black car and going into Sandown and Bathurst, it's vital that we can both be on the pace. Unlike a few years ago, these days to win the endurance races you need both drivers capable of going flat out the whole time.

"If you look at the [endurance race] winners over the past three years, it's been a combination of two drivers that have both been able to set consistently fast lap times."

When questioned about his unfamiliarity of the BA Falcon that his team mate has run since the start on 2003 V8 Supercar season, Jones added: "We've got a little bit of work to do with the seat positioning but other than that the car felt really good. I think we were all a little surprised just how quick John and I were in it."

For John Bowe, the decision to campaign his regular OzEmail Falcon has been a bonus: "I think it's great. In the last couple of race meets, my car had been getting better and better, so to be able to build on that will be a big plus for us. With the added technical feedback from Brad [Jones], we will have a very competitive package."

Former British Touring Car Champion, John Cleland and second generation Jones - Andrew, will now pilot the white OzEmail Falcon but will retain Bowe's regular numbering of 888. Cleland, who arrives in Australia only a few days before the Sandown 500 will not have a chance to drive the car before the first practice session. However, Andrew Jones, who recently took out the Winton round of the Konica V8 Supercar Series, was on hand during the Tuesday testing.

"I'm just really looking forward to my first full endurance campaign and the chance to pair with John Cleland is a great opportunity to learn from one of the best," said Andrew Jones.

"As for John [Cleland] not testing before Sandown, well he is just a legend when it comes to getting into unfamiliar cars and driving fast. He proved that with Brad in 2001 when they finished second at Bathurst and it was only his second time in an AU Falcon," Andrew concluded.

 

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