Bathurst result slips through Canto and Holdsworth's fingers While they may not have had a result to show for their efforts, Garry Rogers Motorsport duo Dean Canto and Lee Holdsworth proved to be every inch a contender in the Bathurst 1000 on...
Bathurst result slips through Canto and Holdsworth's fingers
While they may not have had a result to show for their efforts, Garry Rogers Motorsport duo Dean Canto and Lee Holdsworth proved to be every inch a contender in the Bathurst 1000 on the weekend.
An engine problem in their #34 Repco Valvoline Cummins Commodore forced them to retire to the pits, patching up the car enough to complete one final slow lap in order to be classified as the 17th and last finisher in The Great Race.
The weekend had begun on Thursday with Holdsworth suffering a blown tyre on the high speed Conrod Straight that pitched the young gun into a massive series of spins.
Thankfully damage was minimal and the car prepared for qualifying on Friday, where Canto marched into the field for this second Top 10 Shootout of the year.
A solid lap in Saturday's Shootout left the duo to start from seventh for the 161-lap classic and Canto's first stint put the team in a strong position.
Holdsworth assumed the controls and kept the team in the top 10 before pitting on lap 57.
Approaching the GRM pit crew a little too quickly, Holdsworth locked the brakes on the concrete pit apron and sent team manager Kevin 'Shirl' Shawyer flying over the bonnet!
Shawyer was uninjured and leapt back up to help complete the pit stop as Canto rejoined the race.
From there the #34 car stayed strongly in the top 10, but not without incident. Canto clipped the Marcus Marshall Falcon at the Cutting on a restart on lap 70. But Holdsworth wasn't as lucky on lap 100 when he pitted with a tyre problem.
The lucky would continue to spiral for the #34 crew, as Lee would receive a drive through penalty for contact with John Bowe at the Chase and a short time later the engine problem would force him to the pits with no power at the end of lap 128.
That left the team's #33 car to wave the flag with Greg Ritter and Cameron McLean behind the wheel.
Ritter qualified the car a solid 16th on the grid and started the race, though quickly found himself struggling with a numb foot that made heel and toeing between the brake and accelerator pedal difficult.
McLean took over for the second stint and found himself spinning on the exit of the Chase on lap 37 after contact with Owen Kelly in the second Tasman Commodore.
The #33 car pushed on though but Ritter would later become stuck behind the Safety Car on lap 61 and be forced to sprint to stay out of the sights of the then race leader Greg Murphy.
Another Safety Car period soon after allowed Ritter to check into the back of the queue and stay on the lead lap and he and McLean would push on for the rest of the day, later to be affected by unscheduled stops that dropped them down the order.
They would cross the line in 13th place, one lap down on winners Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.
GRM BATHURST QUOTEBOOK
"I'm sure we surprised a few people on the weekend. The car was really strong and consistent. In my second stint, the lap times we were doing were the third quickest on the track at that stage. If everything had run to plan we were a shot for the podium. The car was fast all weekend. There was a little drama I had at the Cutting with Marshall. He'd let a few cars go by on the restart exiting turn two and I went up the inside in the Cutting and thought he'd seen me, but he hadn't. Unlike other teams, our car has no damage and only needs a new front spoiler and it's ready for Indy."
"It's a shame to have a mechanical problem so late in the race. Before I got the penalty for the touch with John Bowe I'd locked a brake into the Chase after a restart and flat-spotted a tyre, so I came straight in. Even though we lost a few spots we got a Safety Car soon after to catch back up. But the day went sour from there because I was coming down Conrod and the engine lost a few cylinders so we parked it until the end to at least get some points. In terms of the speed for the weekend, we're still going forwards and making gains in the cars, which is a good confidence booster."
"My right foot was going numb in the first stint and it happened again a little in the second stint. We got on top of it with some treatment for the last stint. Not long after we'd escaped the leaders and got back into the queue well and truly on the lead lap, we started losing water from the car. We came in and out a few times to top it up and eventually lost a lap while we worked on it and found a water pump problem. Once we solved that, the car was all good and I chased down those on the lap I was on and passed them. Without anything to gain or any cars to pass I just took it easy to the end to get the result. Having the eighth fastest lap of any car in the race was handy too."
"The day was a bit disappointing really, because we were going along quite well and I definitely think that a top eight result at least was on the cards. It would have all depended on how the last stint unfolded. The team did a great job solving the water leak problem but once you lose a lap it's almost impossible to make up. I slotted back into the team very well after making my V8 Bathurst debut with them in 1998. Everyone was very accommodating and I knew what my role was for the weekend. This is the third different team for which Greg and I have shared a car so surely we've set some kind of record this weekend!"