Going back to Oran Park virtually will be a special opportunity for Lee Holdsworth in tomorrow night’s BP Supercars All Stars Eseries finale.
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The outer Sydney circuit played host to two significant breakthroughs for a young Holdsworth’s career in the 2000s.
In his first full Supercars season in 2006, Holdsworth recorded his first podium finish at Oran Park.
Twelve months later, still driving for Garry Rogers Motorsport, he’d be back on the podium for a second time in his career – but this time it was the top step.
Holdsworth mastered treacherous Sydney conditions to outclass a number of more experienced and credentialed competitors to hand GRM its first victory in more than a year.
To this day, he believes it was a result that put him on the path to being a stalwart of the sport now in his 15th full-time season.
“It was my second year in Supercars with GRM and I was still needing to put my foot down and mark my place in the category,” Holdsworth recalled to Supercars.com.
“I’ve always loved Oran Park, I’d done well there in Commodore Cup, it was always my favourite track to go to.
“So heading there in ’07 after getting a podium there in ’06 as well in my first year in a reverse grid race, I knew it was going to be a good weekend but it was very wet.
“I qualified OK, I qualified in the top 10 I think and had a good run in the second race where I ran up to fourth, so I started fourth for the final race and I remember Garry [Rogers] coming up to me on the grid and saying ‘what do you reckon? I reckon we go slicks’.
“And I said to him, ‘na, it’s going to be wet for at least 10 laps so we’re going to blaze away on wet tyres, so that will take us to our pitstop and we can decide what to do from there’.
“He didn’t agree with me but he decided he would put his faith into my own hands and it paid off. There were only a few others around me that started on wets and we got off into the lead pretty early.
“Throughout the race I was certainly put under a lot of pressure so many times, I think there was six or seven Safety Cars so everyone was on wet tyres and I had some of the biggest names in the category back then breathing down my neck.
“I led it from start to finish, which was a pretty proud achievement.
“It was an incredible day, I remember the GRM guys hanging over the fence; it just meant so much to us all to bring home that victory.
“It just meant everything. That was really the point where I felt I was going to go on to do good things in the category.”
Holding down 10th in the Eseries standings ahead of the final round at Oran Park and Bathurst tomorrow, the 37-year-old enjoyed reacquainting himself with the track that last hosted a Supercars race in 2008 before making way for residential development.