Flashback: Erebus creates history at Winton

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 10/02/2021
  • By James Pavey

Erebus Motorsport has long proved it can take it to the big teams, with no example greater than its remarkable Bathurst 1000 triumph in 2017.

Three years earlier, however, the team's first win still resonates strongly.

Winton Motor Raceway, which will return to the series in 2021, was the venue for one of Supercars' most historic days in 2014.

Under fading light, Erebus and Lee Holdsworth combined to register the first touring car win for Mercedes-Benz in history.

A lot has changed in the seven years since. Holdsworth has moved on to co-driving duties with Walkinshaw Andretti United, while Erebus will take an exciting rookie line-up of Will Brown and Brodie Kostecki into 2021, having competed with Holdens since 2016.

Back in 2014, Brown was just 16 years old, with Kostecki a year his senior.

Erebus Motorsport, as a Supercars outfit, was only in its second season.

The planets aligned that day, with a resurgent Holdsworth outlasting Mark Winterbottom and Fabian Coulthard.

The victory didn't fall from the heavens. Erebus worked hard for it, and Holdsworth delivered, passing Coulthard under the setting Victorian sun.

The resounding performance came from within for Holdsworth, who was confronted by a home invasion mid-week.

Team owner Betty Klimenko has since taken the team to soaring heights, from Bathurst wins to Bathurst poles.

However, no one forgets their first victory, and for a small team intent on creating its own history, Erebus has a great place to start.

For Holdsworth, a first win since 2010 meant so much, not only for him, but for the team which gave him another shot at the main game.

"It has been a highly emotional 12 months," he said after the race.

"It's been so tough. We've had up but mostly downs. We came into this year with a much better car and it's actually caught me surprise that we have made that massive step over the break.

"I just didn't guess we would be winning a race at this time of the year."

One of Australian motorsport's pioneers, Klimenko also became the first female team owner to skipper a race victory in the category.

It came as Holdsworth, who qualified fourth in the race, chased down and passed Brad Jones Racing's Coulthard, who had secured a win earlier in the day.

The humble little Winton circuit, which also played host to a maiden win for Tim Slade two years later, now holds a special place for Erebus, which has gone on to win seven races in his history.

While praising his team, Holdsworth paid tribute to Klimenko, who had finally scaled the top of the Supercars tree.

"I am also very proud of what Erebus has achieved... a race win and a very fast car. I am stoked," Holdsworth said.

"You guys all know [Betty] is out there.

"She is very different to the rest of us but she's awesome for the sport, bloody good to the fans with a massive following and she's good to work for."

With tears in her eyes, the charismatic and colourful Klimenko had finally reached the summit.

It would get even better in October 2017, but delivering the team's maiden victory in front of hardcore fans in Winton amplified her emotions.

"We are in a place where true fans come to watch; for me this is worth a hundred Homebushes or Townsvilles, because I'm standing in the middle of true fans who have come out here," she told Supercars.com after the race.

"We're a team that is sprung out of people. We're not a factory team, we're not even a Mercedes team, we're an Erebus team.

"We've worked hard. We didn't come in, in a blaze of glory; we came in and had to push the car backwards.

"I just remembered every face I've seen, every hand I've shook, every autograph I've given and it's just flashed before my eyes, I thought, 'Oh my God I must be having a heart attack’.

"But it's not just for me. It's for the boys, for the drivers, the people."

Winton will stage official pre-season testing on February 16, before hosting the fifth round of the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship across May 29-30.

The team's new-look driver line-up will make its competitive debut at the Repco Mt Panorama 500. Tickets are on sale now.

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