“We just killed the word impossible” – with those words Erebus Motorsport Team Manager David Stuart summed up the last 48 hours at Australia’s newest V8 Supercar team.
On Thursday afternoon the #47 Heavy Haulage Australia E63 AMG entry of Tim Slade was involved in an incident where he clipped the wall at turn three, damaged his steering and hit the wall heavily at turn four with the right front corner of the car.
The front end of the car had to be re-built and was not expected to return to the circuit until tomorrow morning’s warm-up – maybe! Amazingly, the Erebus crew worked non-stop through the night and had the car back on the track 10 minutes into this morning’s practice session – about 20 hours ahead of schedule!
Erebus motorsport General Manager, Ross Stone, said that effort was ‘the most incredible he had seen in 40-odd years of motorsport’.
Slade said he was “so, so grateful and the could never re-pay the crew for their superhuman performance’.
At the end of the session Slade had posted the 23rd fastest time with a 2:10.74 lap on full tanks. Because the car was not available for yesterday’s qualifying, Slade is expected to start tomorrow’s 161-lap race from pit lane.
In the meantime, Lee Holdsworth continued his impressive lead-up to the Great Race with the seventh fastest time of the session with 2:09.37 in the Irwin Tools E63 AMG.
Holdsworth’s co-driver Craig Baird did not take part in the session because of his driving commitments in the Carrera Cup support race, in which he finished third. –Holdsworth and Baird will start 12th tomorrow.
The team’s SP Tools E63 AMG was shared in today’s session between Maro Engel and Steve Johnson and finished the session in 17th with a lap of 2:10.38.
The pair continued to experiment with set-up and had a couple of solid runs with full fuel loads to give them a good baseline for the race – they will start 16th tomorrow.
David Reynolds was quickest in today’s practice with a 2:08.68. There will be a warm-up tomorrow from 7.25-7.45am with the Great Race underway at 10.30am.
LEE HOLDSWORTH – IRWIN Tools Racing E63 AMG: "We have maintained our consistency and car speed, plus considering some guys put new tyres on to set themselves up for the top 10 shootout we are pleased,” said Holdsworth.
"We set our best time on full tanks and that is a great sign going into the race.
"Without having to worry about the shootout we worked 100% on ensuring the car would be good for the race. Our tyre wear is strong and that is another key for the race.
"The front of the car is excellent and we need to get the rear a little better, but we made some changes today that made improvements there as well.
"I really couldn't ask for much more and bring on tomorrow."
CRAIG BAIRD #4 IRWIN Tools Racing E63 AMG: “It was good to be on podium in the Carrera Cup race today and it would be even more pleasing to have a similar result in the Irwin car tomorrow,” said Baird.
“The car has been reasonably consistent and ‘Leroy’ has said some positive things about its performance on full tanks today.
“Everyone is calm and ready to go.”
MARO ENGEL #9 SP Tools Racing E63 AMG: “It was good to get some time in the car. You could never have enough seat time at this place,” said Engel.
“It was also good to get an idea of how the car handled with full fuel loads.
“We have a good direction and are gathering data with every lap.
“I am looking forward to my first Bathurst.”
STEVE JOHNSON #9 SP Tools Racing E63 AMG: “We tried a few things with the set-up, but we probably went the wrong way to be truthful, but that’s what these sessions are about,” said Johnson.
“The #4 car seems to a bit closer to the mark and it will be good to bounce a few things off Lee (Holdsworth) before tomorrow’s warm-up.
“Overall I think we have a reasonable race package, which we can get better with a couple of tweaks.”
TIM SLADE - Heavy Haulage Australia – E63 AMG: “What do I say?,” said Slade.
“I have to thank everyone so, so much for their efforts in getting this car back on track today – today? – can you believe it?
“When I drove the car out of the garage I had 100% faith in what I had underneath me and it was millimetre perfect.
“I am so grateful to everyone at Erebus who made this possible and I have a few debts to repay. Hopefully we can start with a solid result tomorrow.”
ANDREW THOMPSON - Heavy Haulage Australia – E63 AMG: “I have been involved in a few things like this re-build, but nothing has been as impressive as the job these Erebus boys did on the HHA E63,” said Thompson.
“With 20 minutes to go in the session, there were still 17 people climbing over the car putting it together.
“There was not much I could do, but watch on and it was amazing to see these guys in action. It proved anything is possible.”
EREBUS MOTORSPORT – CEO – RYAN MADDISON: “Heroic. That probably sums it up,” said Maddison of the #47 re-build.
“It is well documented that we had 109 days to build three cars from scratch for the start of this season and that was a massive job.
“I don’t think that could have been achieved by another team and that’s why Betty (Klimenko) decided Stone Brothers Racing was the existing team to purchase.
“The team has developed under the Erebus Motorsport banner during the last eight months and there have certainly been plenty of character-building moments.
“The last 48 hours have been an amazing testament to the skill base and the passion the members of this team have and we could not be more proud.
“To have the HHA car out there for the session was incredible – and it was achieved while continuing the solid on-track build-up of both the Irwin and SP Tools entries. “It has been an amazing thing to be a part of.”