Young gun Kurt Kostecki will take plenty away from two events in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, after standing in for an injured Lee Holdsworth and bringing his Dunlop Series car to Preston Hire Racing.
The 18-year old from Perth took his opportunity with both hands and while it was a tough initiation in Townsville, he improved at Queensland Raceway, with a best finish of 21st in Sunday’s race.
Kostecki is now focused on the next round of the Dunlop Series at the Wilson Security Sandown 500 in September, and his duties as a mechanic at Triple Eight.
Funnily enough, he will most likely work on the new car being produced for Preston Hire Racing, to debut in Sydney next month at the hands of enduro co-driver Karl Reindler.
“It came around that I drove for them, and now I’ll be helping them get back to the track for the next one,” Kostecki said.
“Lucky we have a bit of a break now to get that all organised … they’ve only just started the car.”
It’s straight back into it for the young driver after his unexpected opportunity.
“It’s back to reality, really,” he said.
“Back to the gym, back to work – we’re working hard here … to get back on top of everything.
“Hopefully these cars will be just as strong in the second half of the year, as they were at the start. I’ll go back to Dunlop Series and be barracking and working hard for these guys, just as hard as [I’m working on] my own racing, really.”
Kostecki believes the opportunity has been all for the best and can’t wait to apply his learnings on track in the second tier development category.
“I’ve definitely taken heaps out of it and will definitely go back to the Dunlop Series knowing heaps more about the cars, the racing and the level I need to be at if I want to make it in the main game full-time.
“The biggest thing for me is seeing the level and seeing what it takes.”
Queensland Raceway was an easier prospect than concrete-lined Townsville, given Kostecki had already learned the race procedures.
“We were just a lot better out of the box which was really cool for me and the team,” he said.
“It was good to just focus on my driving, I definitely improved session by session and every night I went back to the hotel, looked through a lot of data, looked through as much as I could to be prepared for the next day.
“I feel like I wish we could go back into Townsville with what I know now, we would’ve been much better off but it’s easy to say that in hindsight.”
Kostecki was penalised two grid spots in Sunday’s race after blocking Prodrive Racing Australia’s Mark Winterbottom during qualifying when he was running out of sync in the train.
Team boss Tim Edwards was publicly critical of the young driver on the TV coverage, but Kostecki handled himself well in the media, responding to the comments sensibly.
“It was obviously very harsh what they were saying but I guess in the heat of the moment it was one of those things,” Kostecki said.
“I did apologise because I was in the wrong, but you’ve just got to keep moving forward. Obviously there’s lots of things at stake for them and not as much for me, so I can understand the scenario, but it would’ve been nice if they could just understand where I was at. And where I was coming from, everyone has to start somewhere.”
While a Bathurst wild entry is something that has been raised, it’s not a priority at the moment.
“We’ve spoken about it in bits and pieces, but we’re just taking it as it comes, really,” he said.
“I’ve just come off two big weekends so we’ll let the dust settle a little bit.
“Hopefully we can do a test day at Barbagallo before Sandown, that’d be good to get some laps and apply what I’ve learnt before going back to Dunlop Series on the hard tyre.”