Supercars driver Tim Slade steers the Freightliner Racing Holden Commodore ZB to a fourth place finish in Sunday's race at The Bend circuit in South Australia.
Supercars driver Tim Slade steers the Freightliner Racing Holden Commodore ZB to a fourth place finish in Sunday's race at The Bend circuit in South Australia. Daniel Kalisz

Ipswich racer returns after spectacular crashes

RECOVERED and ready to go again after two massive crashes, Ipswich driver Ash Walsh can't wait to contest this year's Supercars endurance series.

"It was definitely scary,'' Walsh said reflecting on a high speed crash at Phillip Island last October before another frightening ordeal in the Bathurst 24 hour race in February.

"A crash like that is something that obviously plays on your mind at the time.''

Walsh sustained a range of injuries from the mishaps, including rib cartilage and elbow damage, contusions on his lungs, whiplash and a puncture on his leg.

The first crash, where his sports car rolled four times after doing 280/290km an hour, ruled him out of last year's Bathurst and Gold Coast endurance races.

In February, he was flown to Orange Hospital after his Audi was sent spinning sideways across the Mount Panoroma circuit following an incident with other drivers.

However, being the professional sportsman he is, Walsh wasted little time reaffirming his passion to continue racing.

"It's just like riding a bike,'' he said. "You fall off and get back in and get comfortable again.

"You can't help it when things like that happen.''

Walsh, 30, remains as positive as ever about his future being under contract this year and next year with the highly competitive Brad Jones Racing (BJR) team.

"I'm just keen to get back in,'' Walsh said.

"I did a lot between Bathurst and the Gold Coast to try and get ready to race at the Gold Coast. But those types of injuries just take time to heal.

"It was disappointing to miss out on Bathurst and then the Gold Coast last year but I definitely feel ready to go.''

He's preparing to rejoin BJR team co-driver Tim Slade in the Freightliner Commodore for the Sandown 500 (September 14-16), Bathurst 1000 (October 4-7) and Gold Coast 600 (October 19-21).

 

Ipswich racer Ash Walsh with the Brad Jones Racing team.
Ipswich racer Ash Walsh with the Brad Jones Racing team.

Since his setbacks, Walsh hasn't done a lot of racing.

However, the former Ipswich Grammar School student will link up with the BJR team at its next test day in Winton on September 4.

He worked with the team at a recent test day after gaining some valuable track time during a co-drivers practice session at the Ipswich SuperSprint series at Queensland Raceway last month.

"By the time the racing comes around at Sandown, I feel like I will be well prepared,'' he said, having raced in Supercars events since 2013.

"It's been quite a while now whether that be as a co-driver or a main driver.

"I feel like I know the events well. I know the tracks well.

"It's just a matter of getting there and getting comfortable on the day and actually tuning the car so it's quick and we're comfortable in the car.''

Walsh will reunite with BJR driver Tim Slade.

Walsh said the test days were important to practise "all the finer details'' like driver changes, pit stops and "all the little things that you've got to get right on the day''.

"It's just more laps in the car really . . . the more running you do, the more comfortable you get,'' he said.

"Because I'm not driving the car week in, week out, it takes a little bit of time to get that level of comfort up there enough that you feel ready for the race.

"Nothing really prepares you for the racing side of things. You just get out there and the natural instincts kind of take over.''

The Ipswich born and bred racer has known Slade all his motorsport career.

The pair forged a bond through racing karts, in Formula Ford events and other racing categories before reaching the pinnacle of Australian motorsport - the Supercars.

Preparing for the recent Ipswich SuperSprint round, Slade spoke about his keenness to reunite with Walsh.

"It was unfortunate the way it all panned out last year with his injuries from the crash,'' Slade, 33, said.

"I'm definitely looking forward to teaming back up with Ash.

"Ash and I have known each other since go-karts. Now he's super fast and he's done a really good job for us so far.''