Sandown hero Lee Holdsworth has revealed he became so frustrated and depressed by his 2013 on-track struggles he requested a release from his contract with Erebus Motorsport V8 to seek another drive for 2014.
Holdsworth spoke to Erebus CEO Ryan Maddison about his contract after the Coates Hire Ipswich 360 in July where his already poor season hit rock-bottom.
“I went to Ryan and said ‘this isn’t working what are we going to do?’ because obviously the results my car was getting wasn’t the desired results and they weren’t good for the sponsors and good for anyone,” Holdsworth told v8supercars.com.au.
“There was a point where I went to him and said ‘mate we have to do something here and if we can’t do anything then you are going to have to let me go’.
“Fortunately it didn’t come to that. The team has a lot of confidence in me and knew we would get there and knew that the team would get there. So it’s all coming good at the right time.”
Holdsworth’s belief in the future of Betty Klimenko’s privateer team was bolstered by a highly successful test at Ipswich two weeks ago and reinforced dramatically by his brilliant run to fourth place in the Wilson Security Sandown 500 with Craig Baird in the IRWIN Tools Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG.
Holdsworth says he is now committed to fulfilling his contract with the team for 2014.
“The mentality we adopted in that test day seemed to have carried on into this round, which gives me confidence it is there to stay now if we keep heading down that path,” Holdsworth said.
“I don’t want to say what we found, but green tyres was a massive issue for me and we did stuff with car set-up, tyres ands trying to find how we could get a gain out of them and that definitely worked.”
Usually one of the most upbeat characters in pitlane, Holdsworth has been downcast in recent months as the Erebus team has struggled to make its new race cars competitive.
The 30-year old was further affected by a long string of non-finishes and an inability to match the qualifying pace of teammate Tim Slade.
“I am my own biggest critic, I tend to criticise myself first and look at the car second,” Holdsworth said. “I was probably a bit too hard on myself and what was working for Sladey wasn’t working for me. That was pretty frustrating for me because Sladey had some pretty good speed at some parts of the year in qualifying.
“I couldn’t get anything out of the car in qualifying, I had no confidence in the car and I had no confidence in the tyre. Just everything was terrible and I was wondering what the hell I was going to do.
“I knew in the back of my head it wasn’t me, but when you have your teammate beating you it’s hard to swallow that pill and you are told the cars are the same and so on.”
Holdsworth admitted he had become hard to live with this year and paid tribute to his wife Alana, who had to cope with a grumpy husband as well as their baby daughter Ava.
“You always bring it home with you. It’s not just a job, it’s a passion and your life. Racing is a pretty selfish sport, so when it’s not going well on the track it’s not going well anywhere in life, so I have been probably a pain in the arse at home. Alana has been brilliant with support and the rest of my family and friends.”
The Sandown result, which is by far the most significant achieved by Erebus in its debut V8 season, has given Holdsworth belief he and Baird can be a threat in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 next month.
“Going to Bathurst we have a hell of a lot more confidence. This is not just a one-off, it is something we are building on and the team are just stoked. We are definitely moving forward at a great rate.”