Holden stars chasing Bathurst ‘fairytale’

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 14/10/2020
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Holden’s star drivers are hoping to thank the marque’s fans by scoring victory in its last official appearance at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

While teams including Triple Eight will continue to campaign the current Holden Commodores in Supercars in 2021, there will be no factory support and no Holden Racing Team name.

Parent company General Motors announced in February that Holden will cease operations in Australia by the end of 2020, three years after stopping local production.

The Red Bull HRT Commodores of Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes and Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander will sport ‘#thanks Holden fans’ branding this weekend.

All four drivers gathered at the top of the Mountain this morning to reveal the livery change and share their thoughts on the weekend ahead.

“It’s going to be emotional,” said Whincup, who has been part of the Holden fold since Triple Eight’s switch from Ford in 2010.

“The tribute we’re making this weekend is to everyone who has supported the brand and worn a Holden shirt over the 50 years.

“That’s all the engineers, all the ex-drivers, anyone who’s worked at Holden, everyone involved with this amazing, iconic brand here in Australia.

“I think we’ll still see Holden cars on the grid for a few years to come, but this is the end of a 50-year era of Holden supporting motorsport and there’s no bigger place than Bathurst.

“We want to go out on a high and thank everyone in the best possible way and that’s standing on the top step of the podium on Sunday.

“If it can’t be us, hopefully it’s a Holden car. We’ll be going as hard as we can and hopefully the fairytale can come true.”

Lowndes started his Australian touring car career with the Walkinshaw-run HRT in 1994 and made a high-profile defection to Ford in 2001, before switching back to Holden with Triple Eight in ’10.

“I was lucky enough to start my career with the factory team and this weekend we get to close the chapter with it as well,” he said.

“We want to celebrate it and hopefully we can do that with a win.”

Unfortunately for Holden fans, the end of an era coincides with COVID-19 restrictions that stipulate just 4,000 spectators per day can attend this weekend’s event.

That has made for a very different build-up to the race, with none of the usual autograph sessions and parades taking place.

The top of the Mountain is also devoid of the campers that usually greet drivers during their Wednesday track walks.

“It really is a different world and a different feel to what we normally walk into here,” said Lowndes. “I thrive off the energy of the people and the atmosphere. It’s very different.”

Tander, who enjoys the rare distinction of spending his entire career in Holdens, says the event still carries enormous significance for drivers and teams.

“It’s got a very different feel, there’s no doubt, but it’s a special place and a special race and the enthusiasm from a drivers’ and teams’ perspective is the same,” he said.

“No doubt we’ll miss that feeling from the fans that we get from the Shootout, they get so excited each time someone does a lap time, and the closing laps of the race.

“That will feel different, but it won’t take away from any success this year.”

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