Erebus Motorsport goes the distance at Bathurst

Lee Holdsworth: “That is the hardest I have worked for a 14th place in my life."

Erebus Motorsport completed its first 1000km race at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at Mt Panorama today – another milestone in the short history of Australia’s newest V8 Supercar team.

At the same time, Erebus Motorsport has maintained fifth place in the Pirtek Enduro Cup, which will be decided at the Armor All Gold Coast 600 on the streets of Surfers Paradise in two weeks time.

Lee Holdsworth, Erebus Motorsport
Lee Holdsworth, Erebus Motorsport

Photo by: John Maricic

The Irwin Tools Racing E63 AMG was the best of the team’s three cars finishing 14th, running in the top 10 for much of the day. In doing so, the car became the first Mercedes to finish every lap of the Bathurst event since its conversion to a 1000km race 40 years ago.

Incredibly, the car was just 50 seconds from the winning car after the always-grueling 1000km race.

In the end, it is estimated that the team spent approximately an additional 15 seconds in the pits refueling compared to the majority of the opposition. Subtracting that amount of time off the finishing results would have placed that car eighth.

The #9 SP Tools E63 AMG of Maro Engel and Steve Johnson started 16th, but battled set-up issues all race and eventually finished 20th.

The #47 Heavy Haulage Australia E63 AMG started from pit lane after a major crash on Thursday forced it out of Friday qualifying. A steering rack issue forced it into the garage on lap 62 of the 161-lap race and it lost several laps – eventually finishing 27th. During the 1000 the team watched as they competed in Zhuhai, China through the Erebus Motorsport GT program.

The next round of the championship will be the Armor All Gold Coast 600 on the streets of Surfers Paradise from October 25-27.

LEE HOLDSWORTH – IRWIN Tools Racing E63 AMG: “That is the hardest I have worked for a 14th place in my life. To be honest, I thought we were in sight of a top five finish all day and then after that last stop all of a sudden we were 14th. I am struggling to work it out, but obviously the amount of time we were spending in the pits with fuel hurt us.

I think we made some major gains from Thursday onwards, but we just didn't get the result we deserved. We need to convert what we learned this weekend into a stepping stone for better results at the Gold Coast in a couple of weeks time, and give the Irwin Racing fans something to cheer about.”

CRAIG BAIRD #4 IRWIN Tools Racing E63 AMG: “I have been here plenty of times, but I am as confused as ‘Leroy”. I think the entire Erebus Motorsport team did a solid job and everyone deserved more. I guess the positive thing to come out of it is that we completed our first 1000km race and that box is ticked.

To be honest, I was surprised that there were not more mechanical DNFs. The reliability up an down pit lane has not been great this year, then we come to the toughest race of the year on a hot day and it’s all good. That just adds to the weirdness of the day.”

MARO ENGEL #9 SP Tools Racing E63 AMG: “The car ran faultlessly all day, we just missed the set-up,”. We were hoping the track would work for us, but it never did and we battled all day. We also had some cool suit issues, which did not help given how hot it was.

On the positive side, we finished our first 1000km race and we learned a lot. After finding the deficits this weekend we can head to the Gold Coast with the intention of closing the gap”

STEVE JOHNSON #9 SP Tools Racing E63 AMG: “It was a tough day for sure, but we finished. We missed the set-up and battled with the track conditions and the right handling all race. We looked after the tyres hoping the track would come to us. It was a little better towards the end, but everyone seemed to improve.

"The team has three straight cars and that is not always the case when you drive out of Mt Panorama on a Sunday night. Despite a tough day, I think we go to the Gold Coast upbeat and ready to fight another day at a place, which is totally different to here. I also get to sleep in my own bed which is a bonus.”

TIM SLADE - Heavy Haulage Australia – E63 AMG: “What a week.” Obviously we had all those dramas on Thursday which set us back and then a massive effort from the team to get us out for yesterday’s practice.

"Despite all that I thought we had a very good race strategy with a good racecar, but then all this weirdness set in. We had cool suit issues and then I got a hole in my drink bottle – I was wrecked after that first double stint. The steering rack problem forced us into the garage for a lot of laps and then it was a matter of just getting seat time and learning what we could. I thought we got the most out of what we had.

"Disappointingly, I would have loved nothing more than to give the Erebus crew a solid result for their massive efforts in the lead up to the race today. Again, I can’t thank them enough and hopefully we can give them something to cheer about in front of a home crowd in Surfers Paradise in a couple of weeks.”

ANDREW THOMPSON - Heavy Haulage Australia – E63 AMG: “Terrible lows on Thursday with the crashes. Tremendous highs yesterday when the crew rolled the re-built car out for practice and then a tough day today. Bathurst just keeps dishing it out.

"We had a tough hill to climb after Thursday, but the guys and girls got us back in the show. Unfortunately we did not have the car speed today and then those mechanical issues obviously cost us laps.

"It is always disappointing not to have a good on-track result at Bathurst, but today is far from shattering when you consider what it took to get us in the race in the first place.”

EREBUS MOTORSPORT – CEO – RYAN MADDISON: “When you look at today it is easy to seek further opportunities, but the whole team leaves here knowing they are collectively and individually better for the experience. We might not have gotten the race results we showed were achievable from our pace in all sessions, but the character displayed over the last four days is something that will provide further insight to the foundation of our teams future success.

"We said at the start of the season that Bathurst would be a marker for this operation and to be honest I think we have exceeded expectations. We always knew that the Stone Brothers Racing DNA in this operation was a massive asset, but I think collectively we went forward as Erebus Motorsport over the last four days. There is no doubt that the extra time in the pit stops hurt us – especially with the Irwin Tools E63 AMG, but we just have to work harder. No one here is scared of that.

"The fact that we are sitting fifth in the Pirtek Enduo Cup with Lee and Craig in the Irwin car is pleasing and hopefully something we can build on at the final enduro round on the Gold Coast in a couple of weeks.”

Erebus Motorsport

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Lee Holdsworth , Steve Johnson , Maro Engel
Teams Erebus Motorsport
Article type Race report
Tags baird, bathurst 1000, engel, holdsworth, johnson, v8supercars