The Erebus Motorsport V8 Supercar team has survived a torrid opening 300km race which included four separate safety car periods at the Armor All Gold Coast 600, with Lee Holdsworth and Craig Baird maintaining their fifth place in the PIRTEK Enduro Cup standings.
Early in the race, Baird did a superb job to get the IRWIN Racing #4 up to second place as the team went on a two-stop strategy, whilst Johnson was on the charge in the #9 SP Tools Racing E63 AMG, making some 24 positions from where he started.
The IRWIN Racing team made the driver change at the earliest possible moment (lap 34), Lee Holdsworth did the back end of the race and was kept busy with multiple battles.
As has been the case in the endurance races to date, the team steadfastly stuck to their strategy, which placed Lee on the edge of the top 10 for the final period of the 102 laps.
Steven Johnson fought forward and was able to avoid the carnage that littered the 2.96km circuit. He positioned the #9 SP Tools Racing car where it should have been challenging for a top 10 once Maro Engel got in the car.
Unfortunately for Johnson, an escapade across the notorious GC600 curbs led to the broken rear shock and he had to come into the garage for it to be replaced.
Despite losing six laps in the process, both Johnson and then Engel proved the pace of the car through to the finish.
David Brabham got the afternoon underway for the #47 Heavy Haulage Australia Racing team. His first standing start for some time, plus still familiarising himself with the V8 Supercars Car of the Future saw Brabham drift backwards on the opening laps.
Once comfortable, he did a good job to elevate the blue and orange E63 AMG into the top 10 with the Safety Cars and other trouble around him to hand over to Tim Slade.
Slade was in the thick of it, the front and rear of the Heavy Haulage Australia Racing car looking looking second hand at the drop of the chequered flag. Despite battling without drinking water in the very hot conditions at the back end of the race he kept it on the track and finished 15th.
A complete reset on the action from today will start with qualifying tomorrow morning at 10:55am local time and the final 300km race at 1:45pm.
Lee Holdsworth - #4 IRWIN Racing E63 AMG - 12th:
“It was very hard work out there. As it turned out, some people lucked it with the Safety Cars and really the first one set us on the back foot. We had some good pace, we’re still searching for some speed overall though.
“On the positive, it is a clean result and hopefully we can come home with a straight car tomorrow but perhaps a little further up the grid in qualifying.”
Craig Baird - #4 IRWIN Racing E63 AMG - 12th:
“It was so hard to pass out there, so it was a reasonably tough day. We had so much more lap speed on board the #4 IRWIN Racing E63, but down the back straight when you had the opportunity to pass, you were two or three car lengths behind and you couldn’t get into a position to make a move.
“It was kind of frustrating, on a clear lap we should have been quicker, but couldn’t utilise the car speed we had on board.”
Tim Slade - #47 Heavy Haulage Australia Racing E63 AMG - 15th:
“I’m fairly well beat up after that as the car is! It was hard work hanging onto it out there. When you’re working in the mid-pack with other cars around you, most times that is when you are working the hardest.
“It was pretty tough and hot and I learnt a few things that I can use in the race tomorrow.
“Once again it was a great job by the Heavy Haulage Australia Racing team and an awesome job by Brabs (David Brabham) - he’s done two practice sessions in these cars and then gone straight into starting a race around a pretty tough circuit. So he’ll be a lot more confident heading into tomorrow’s race I’m sure.”
David Brabham - #47 Heavy Haulage Australia Racing E63 AMG - 15th:
“It wasn’t a great first few laps, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and lost a few positions, but then got into a rhythm and felt comfortable. I knew the race would come to me in that sense and just had to bide my time.
“For some reason we were losing a little in the straights, I am not sure why. This made it difficult into the first chicane and turn four to try and make a pass. We were really strong under brakes, so that was a real shame.
“We had a bit of damage on the Heavy Haulage Australia Racing #47 that I think affected us.
“This is such a wild race...I think we ran as well as we could.”
Maro Engel - #9 SP Tools Racing E63 AMG - 21st:
“I don’t know what to say - if we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all. It just seems to be one of those years where there’s a big race, we have some sort of issue that is out of our hands.
“Steve was doing a great job, Chris (Stuckey - Race Engineer) had set the car up nicely and had the right changes for the race and the strategy was starting to work, I think the car’s pace was really good for the tyre life.
“It’s massively disappointing, but we’ll reset and go again tomorrow.”
Steve Johnson - #9 SP Tools Racing E63 AMG - 21st:
“The car was good, I made up a lot of spots - to come from 27th to third in my stint showed good strategy by the guys. I made some good passes and the car was feeling great.
“I may have just clipped the curb the wrong way and the right rear damper gave way. It is really disappointing, but we had some good pace on board.
“We reset and go again now. We can be rest assured though that the #9 SP Tools Racing car was really fast and I think that we can take it to them in the race tomorrow.”
Erebus Motorsport V8