Lee’s return options

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 13/07/2016
  • By Bruce Newton

Lee Holdsworth could be back behind the wheel for the first time since his disastrous Darwin crash at a Winton shakedown of a brand new Preston Hire Holden Commodore VF a week prior to the Red Rooster Sydney 400 in late August.

But that is the most optimistic scenario. Team owner Charlie Schwerkolt says it is more likely Holdsworth will take part in Friday practice at Sydney Motorsport Park, with Pirtek Enduro Cup teammate Karl Reindler debuting the car in the races.

Holdsworth, who is recovering from a fractured pelvis, knee and ribs, would then get another hit-out in the team’s test day prior to the opening round of the PEC, the Wilson Security Sandown 500.

“Lee is extremely frustrated and can’t wait to get back out of that wheelchair,” Schwerkolt told supercars.com. “He is bashing into every wall at the moment.

“The perfect plan is to have him shake the new car down, which is probably extremely doubtful.

“He would then do the practice session at Sydney Motorsport Park, a test day a week before Sandown and do the enduros at Sandown, Bathurst and Gold Coast.”

Schwerkolt said the comeback plan, which is more cautious than Holdsworth’s initial target of racing the new car at SMSP himself, has the approval of Virgin Australia Supercars Championship medico Dr Carl Le.

“He said that was a great idea if we could do that, and obviously it’s through therapy and all the recovery process.

“That would be great (to get Lee in the car at SMSP). Let’s see how he travels. He is going to repair pretty quickly I think.”

The team’s current Triple Eight-built Commodore was written off after Holdsworth fired out of the pack into the wall on the opening lap of the Sunday Darwin race, registering a maximum impact of 95g, far in excess of what Chaz Mostert suffered in his spectacular Bathurst qualifying crash in 2015.

Dunlop Series rookie Kurt Kostecki stepped up with his own T8 Commodore for last weekend’s Castrol EDGE Townsville 400 and will also race for the team at the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint on July 22-24.

We reported on Kostecki’s tough baptism of fire at Reid Park here.

The SMSP outing offers some silver linings for Schwerkolt’s small team, because it will give Reindler valuable seat time and it will allow the engineering crew to thoroughly familiarise itself with its new car.

“Look, ideally, it would be great if Karl was in there now,” Schwerkolt admitted. “But we didn’t have a car. He will get valuable mileage with two races at SMP for sure and that will be great for him.

“He will get to feel the brand new car and then we will get on with it at Sandown.”

The shift to the new Commodore is ahead of schedule and tough financial hit for the new team, which Schwerkolt created from scratch over the summer.

“We were looking at a new car for the start of next year, which would have been exciting,” Schwerkolt explained.

“So we have brought that forward. But I haven’t got a car to sell or have as a spare, so I have missed out on that bit.”

Schwerkolt expressed his thanks again to the Kostecki family for their support and praised the potential Kurt had to eventually become a full-time driver in the championship.

“It’s been great, they are really good people,” he said. “They have risen to accept it’s a really tough experience going from the development series to the main game, but they have stumped up for it and it’s been great.

“It’s all learning for Kurt,” Schwerkolt added. “He is a great listener, he is a great person and I think he has the right aptitude and attitude.

“In three or four years’ time you never know where he will end up.”

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