Lee Holdsworth recorded Erebus Motorsport's best V8 Supercars finish at the Sandown 500, bringing the #4 IRWIN Racing E63 AMG home fourth with Craig Baird.
The Erebus Motorsport V8 team played the strategy in both the Holdsworth/Baird car and the #47 Heavy Haulage Australia Racing car of Tim Slade and Andrew Thompson extremely well.
With longer pitstops due to requiring greater fuel to be delivered over the race distance, to finish 18.91 seconds behind the victorious car showed the tenacity and strategic ability of the Sydney-owned, Gold Coast-based team.
After a superb first stint by Andrew Thompson, Slade was equally as fast as Holdsworth and for much of the mid-sector of the race, the two Erebus Motorsport E63 AMG's occupied the first two places to lead the field.
Slade's race was compromised on the final scheduled stop when a fuel filling issue resulted in the #47 not filling to the brim, necessitating a follow up stop (the #47 team license combines pitstop service with members of another team).
Disappointingly, the pair went a lap behind then elected to engage in a strategic tyre stop soon after.
On a vastly different strategy, Steve Johnson and Maro Engel in the #9 SP Tools Racing E63 AMG were positioning themselves for a top 10 finish as well. Johnson pushed forward throughout his extended stint despite being mired in heavy traffic before handing over to Engel.
Soon after taking control, Engel was forced into the garage after the brake cooling system was damaged from early race contact. The 28-year-old admitted he was fortunate to keep the #9 car off the wall due to a lack of brake pressure as a result of that issue.
After advancing to fourth from 19th on the grid, the result was a timely reward for Holdsworth and the Erebus Motorsport team. Holdsworth admits he has had his toughest V8 Supercars season to date. Slade and Thompson were left rueing what might have been, despite being one of the fastest cars in the 28 car field all weekend.
The team moves onto the Bathurst 1000 next month motivated by its showing of good straight-line speed and some positive results from the weekend, but the issue of fuel disparity will remain a talking point between now and the next stop in the Enduro Cup chase.
LEE HOLDSWORTH - #4 IRWIN Racing E63 AMG: "This has been so rewarding after where we were at Winton. We were really close to the podium, it was rewarding for all of us, the Erebus Motorsport team and all the sponsors for believing in what we could achieve.
"It's good to feel like we finally have some momentum.
"The guys absolutely nailed the strategy, we're at a huge disadvantage with fuel and spent more time in pitlane than others. Some elements played into our hands with a bit of Safety Car luck, but it was an all round great team effort."
CRAIG BAIRD - #4 IRWIN Racing E63 AMG: "It has been a solid effort from the whole team this weekend. Lee's run was just outstanding, he is completely physically drained - especially for a super fit bloke.
"Yesterday was a tough day for us after I was turned around - I really felt like I had let everyone down.
"From a strategy point, the boys did everything they had to do, they ticked the boxes, stuck to the strategy and didn't get ahead of themselves, I couldn't ask for anything more as a co-driver to come into a team such as this."
TIM SLADE - #47 Heavy Haulage Australia Racing E63 AMG: "It was another great job from Andrew - I didn't have the pace of Lee and I'm not sure we could have kept with him at the end. I think we had a solid car, we had a lot better pace than other people. We lost some time in the pits with the fuel.
"Once the drama happened with the fuel fill, we just came in and changed the tyres to some older tyres for the finish.
"We never had the outright pace, but we had at times a top five car, which all looks promising heading to Bathurst and for the remainder of the year."
ANDREW THOMPSON - #47 Heavy Haulage Australia Racing E63 AMG: "I managed to get through everything pretty cleanly through my stint, I used the tyres well and got to the window we were looking for.
"I think we were probably the best of the co-driver cars at points of the stint, but unfortunately our overall result was let down by an error during Tim's last pitstop.
"I haven't raced full time in two years and have done little track time this year, so I'm happy to be at that speed. The Heavy Haulage Australia Racing team gave me a good car and I managed to make the most of it."
MARO ENGEL - #9 SP Tools E63 AMG: "We were on a different strategy to the other cars and mid-race we were in a good position to bring a strong result home. It would have been interesting to see what came out of it should we have been able to play everything out to the end.
"Not long after getting out on track, the car didn't feel right and there was a problem with the brakes, which we traced back to an earlier incident. The pedal went to the floor and I had to bring it in.
"The SP Tools Racing team did a great job to fix the car and get us back out there. A massive well done to the #4 car, they did an awesome job.
STEVE JOHNSON - #9 SP Tools Racing E63 AMG: "I think it was shaping up to be good at the end of the day, we made the right call to get out of sync with everyone to clear the traffic. Once we did that, we were able to put down some good lap times that were over a second quicker than where we were in traffic and I was gaining some good track position.
"Under one of the Safety Cars, we were up towards the top five, but had to remain on track to finish the full stint. At that point, we had done about 12 laps on our tyres when the guys behind had just stopped. I let the other Erebus Motorsport cars past and was happy with that.
"It was really unfortunate that Maro had the brake problem, but I walk away extremely happy with the performance I put in on a personal level and feel as though I did a good job for the team overall."