Lee Holdsworth is keen to jump back into his Preston Hire Racing Commodore and put what was the toughest year of his professional career behind him.
The 33-year old racer was injured in a major crash at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin last season, which left him with a fractured pelvis, two fractured ribs and knee issues, having to sit out three events.
2016 wasn’t all bad, with Holdsworth’s wife Alana giving birth to their first son – spending time home, pain-free with the family has given the driver more time to reflect on the year that was and how he will turn things around for 2017.
“I’m excited to get back in this year, I’ve had a lot of time over the break to recover and reflect on the year, but also put that one behind me because obviously it was a very tough year,” Holdsworth told supercars.com.
“it was a pretty hard year for everyone – the family, the team, our sponsors – so I’m looking forward to delivering something this year.
“Our team is in a much better spot than where we started last year – we’re actually going into the year knowing exactly who we’ve got on board and sponsors sorted, we know what we’re running, what car an everything.
“So I’m feeling much more confident going into the year and I just can’t wait to start.”
The accident reminded Holdsworth that the drivers are vulnerable, despite the significant safety features in the Supercars. He hadn’t missed a start in his time in the sport, running 147 consecutive rounds before sitting out Townsville in July.
“To sustain an injury like that – I’ve never sustained any injury in my career, so to go through that was a little bit of an eye opener, I suppose,” he said.
“No matter how safe our cars are there’s still obviously a huge element of risk. If you can survive an impact like that it does show you how safe the cars actually are.
“It was, I suppose, hard to come back from it and put it all behind you because the last thing you want to do in a small team is go back out there and have more damage on the car.
“You try and save every dollar you can for the rest of the year because it blows the budget out, so there’s always those things playing on your mind.
“Heading into this year I don’t have those pressures on my shoulders, it’s just head down, bum up and go as hard as you can – try and deliver.”
Holdsworth was surprised to find he didn’t have any psychological scars when pulling the helmet back on last September, for the first of the endurance races at Sandown.
“It always played on my mind heading back into the first round that there might be an issue potentially, mental scars and stuff, but as soon as you strap on the helmet those thoughts go out the door – you just can’t afford to be leaving anything on the table in our sport or else you shouldn’t be there.
“I’m so passionate about the sport, having a bit of timeout certainly made me even more determined to get back and achieve my goals.
“There’s still a lot I’d like to achieve in this sport and I was just keen as hell to get back in and do what I love and what I do best.”
The team has shifted to a new workshop over the break and recruited Clipsal 500 winning engineer Chris Stuckey as it faces its second year on the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship grid.
“Charlie went out on a limb running his own team last year an obviously it was going to be tough no matter what in the first year to get results,” Holdsworth said.
“We’ve gained 12 months of knowledge on the car now so certainly be starting in a much better spot.”